You know the feeling. The nagging ball in your stomach when you think about your last date. The twinkle in their eye…the talk of getting together next week…that awkward goodbye hug. Oof. I cringe just thinking about it! That knowing that you don’t want the follow up date. That knowing that, no, you don’t want to stay in touch-even as friends.
A cherished client of mine brought the following scenario to me the other day. He had taken a woman out that he met on his own and knew she was interested. At the end of the date they had talked about going out again the next week. He wasn’t really interested, but she called and they talked about it, but he didn’t solidify the date. The question is:
“We only went on one date. Do I tell her I am too busy and hope that she gets the hint, or do I flat out tell her I’m not interested?”
Before I go on to answer, I will mention that match making isn’t just putting two people (or six, in my case!) together; it’s what happens after that teaches you how people react to each other-and to the process of dating as a whole. I have had hundreds (probably more like thousands) of conversations with people who are navigating a blow off. They thought things were going well, only to be met with the ominous “Things are really busy right now” line or maybe never even got a response at all. Most people don’t shrug that off as easily as you think.
So! You could tell her you are busy and hope that she takes the hint. However, from her perspective, you had indicated that you would be open to seeing more of her. This is the type of behavior that makes dating so frustrating!!!
In the moment you play along to be polite, “Sure I’d like to see you again! *Cough* let’s do that…sometime,” then it’s only a matter of time before she gives up on you and your busy schedule, right? If you’re lucky, she won’t call and you’ll never see her again. But how would you feel if you ran into her at friend’s BBQ a few months from now knowing that you blew her off? Awkward! Why is it awkward? Because you know that you had indicated a possibility of moving forward knowing that you weren’t interested. That’s called Game Playing.
Since we’re assuming outcomes, let’s also assume how she may or may not be feeling about you. She could be lukewarm about you and is being more aggressive since she doesn’t really care as much whether or not you want to be her boyfriend, OR, she could be feeling pretty excited because you were exactly who she has been looking for so she’s swallowing her pride and making it easy for you to ask her out. So I am compelled to ask: Do you really want to risk hurting someone?
I say, bite the bullet and let her know where you stand. I call this The Compliment Sandwich! This is composed of three simple parts:
- I had a very nice time getting to know you.
- I don’t see this moving forward
- You are a good person and I wish you the best
The art of delivering a compliment sandwich is to keep it brief and keep it simple. The above is in it’s purest form, so definitely warm it up and personalize it to your situation. If you have only been on a date or two, you risk making a bigger deal out of ending things than you need to if you over-explain yourself or apologize; which might end up offending the other person unintentionally.
There are two sources of anxiety when dating someone new: 1.) Not knowing if the other person likes you, and 2.) Not knowing when or if you will see the other person again. When the ball is in your court to provide the answer to these two questions, the only thing you owe the other person IS an answer.
While it is easier said than done to deliver a compliment sandwich, who wants to walk around wondering if they’ll have to dodge a call or feeling guilty that you may have let someone down? Plain and simple, it’s just good manners.