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Not Interested in Dating Someone? Just Say So.

FYI, I'm not formally educated or licensed as a therapist, counselor, social worker, psychologist, or healthcare professional, though much of what I teach is informed by these. Curious about my background? Read my bio.

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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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20 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!

      Michael

    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.

      1. Totally agreed with being upfront from start if there’s no interest after trying to get to know someone. In my case, the guy called, texted, facetime; morning, noon, and some late nights for about 1-wk 1/2. Immediately ask me out after his BD wknd spent w/son (?). Anyway, following his BD, he calls next morn left msg. (excuse) for not calling later in day as promised, saying we would talk later. Later came, (8hrs) I txt to ask if he could talk. “not right now, I will ring you later”. Never happened. Next day, no early morn call or text. I waited, text to make sure he’s okay. “thx for asking” was response, nothing more. Nor did he call or txt later. I said, to myself, no worries. Third day after BD, I text gm, he responded 2hrs. later, “GM hru”. I text later, “good”, is everything alright w/you. Hr later, “I’m ok, thx for asking bs”. I said enough is enough. I felt I was wasting my time, or being strung along for a ride. No official calls. WTF
        I simply text: Glad you’re okay. Just asking, are you still interested in mtg for the wknd. Could be wrong, but I sense a disconnect. 2hrs and counting went by.
        FYI: He told me he broke up w/his ex approx. 6-mo. prior to mtg me. I’m pretty intuitive. My guts told me they reconciled during his BD, and he does not have nerve to let me down easy, and or wants his cake /eat it too.
        Thing about it I really liked this guy.

  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.

        1. Hello Michael,

          I recently just told the guy I’ve been dating for a few months that’s I didn’t feel the relationship was progressing into what I wanted, therefor wanting to move on. I was very nice and respectful. His response was very passive aggressive and feels that sending the message via text was a crime.

          1. Hi Elizabeth,

            I’m sorry you’re in that situation—it’s never easy ending a relationship. Without knowing the details of the situation, it’s tough for me to comment in depth. I will say, though, that ending a relationship over text generally isn’t advisable. My examples in this article pertain to situations where someone has expressed interest in dating, or maybe going out on a second date, not for times when you’re already in a relationship and wanting to break up. So my apologies if that was not clear. I’m a big proponent of phone or in-person conversations for anything that is difficult, sensitive, or emotionally charged.

            So if you haven’t done so already, you might consider calling him up, validating the fact that breaking up over text wasn’t the best idea (e.g. “I’m sorry for sending that text—that’s not a great way to share something like this…I wanted to be sure I worded it well, but I realize now that it would have been more appropriate to call,” or whatever feels right to you) and then hope he is more respectful during your conversation in return.

            But if he lashes out or goes passive-aggressive on you, you do not need to sit and take that. It’s entirely appropriate to say what you need to say, and then kindly wrap things up: “I’m simply not feeling it. Thank you for the time we had together and I wish you the best.”

            Again, my heart goes out to you—I sometimes feel it’s harder being the one to end a relationship than being on the receiving end. No fun at all.

            Michael

    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.

      Michael

  7. Hello Michael,
    Thank you for your post. I broke up with a man I dated a few months ago. He texts or emails me about every two months and the communication problem still hasn’t resolved. When I finally called to suggest we talk in person instead of texting and talking he agreed then now he’s so cold. We broke it off because we agreed we were exclusive and then one day the a dating app popped up aNd apparently he was still online. He felt horrible and I said I understand people make mistakes but I can’t forget it. So when I saw him again he couldn’t respond to what he wanted. I asked him again if I was what he wanted and he said he didn’t know. I just don’t know what to do. His texts are cold and doesn’t even bother to ask how I am doing etc. please advise on how I should respond. I don’t like being treated this way if I didn’t do anything wrong but love him.

  8. A reminder to the women commenting, this article was written by a man. It’s not just women who are socialized to be nice, we all are. And while women might fear physical abuse, just think how much men fear psychological abuse that ruins our reputation, our work, our lives, when we reject some women. I’d much rather get a punch in the face. What I have found works is that you must reject them there and then at the end of the date before they get a sniff. Alternatively, if you are unsure then you say “I really don’t see this going anywhere but I’m open to a second date.” Doing it through text I would feel is more for the person who doesn’t accept rejection and keeps on texting. This then is evidence that you have written it with respect if the rejected starts getting defamatory.

  9. I’ve been in a LDR with a very nice guy for 3 months. The more I’ve gotten to know about him the more I’m not sure this relationship is working for me. Everytime I want to voice that he says how compatible he feels we are and happy he is about things. It’s evident that I’m anxious and not so happy anymore. I’ve been feeling like is there something wrong with me that I’m not comfortable anymore ? He’s a good guy just lacking things I feel I personally need. We haven’t spent much time in person yet. Is it dragging it out to wait on that opportunity or is waiting just to possibly break up worse ? Thankyou for this post !

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      That’s a tough one. I will say, there’s nothing wrong with you for not being interested in someone. That’s why we date—to see if a relationship has staying power (and to see if we’re willing to put in the work required to make that relationship stay great, because I’m not aware of any relationship that just stays amazing without work 😉 ). If you feel the relationship could benefit from spending more time in person, and you’re willing to wait for that, great! But if not, I would be careful to not let feelings of what you “should” or “shouldn’t” do get in the way of what your heart tells you.

      Michael

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