One of the most awkward experiences in online dating is rejecting someone who’s expressed interest in you. No one likes rejection, and simultaneously, no one likes to be the bearer of bad news. However, saying “thanks, but no thanks” is not only good online dating etiquette; it’s also an important part of your search for the person who you’re truly interested in.
After receiving the very first email from someone
Say that you get an email from someone, and you can tell immediately that you have no interest in communicating with that person. Here are the Internet-appropriate ways to say no:
- Be brief, direct, and kind. Try something like, “Thank you for your interest but I don’t see us as a match. Wishing you all the best in your search.”
- Don’t reply at all, ever. Just delete the message. In Internet-speak, this tactic is completely understood to mean “Not interested at all, ever.”
And for the record, the inappropriate ways to say no include:
- Deleting without opening. Again if this email is the first communication from a prospect, read it. The person spent the time to write it, so take the few seconds to read it.
- Sending an email saying “Not on your life, you loser.”
- Using the block feature immediately. If the first inquiry was polite, you have no reason to take out the big guns so early. Even if you don’t want any further emails from that person, why slap him or her in the face because that is what it feels like to be blocked.
In the middle of an IM exchange
Say that you’re in the middle of an Instant Messaging (IM) exchange, and you realize that the prospect just isn’t a match. The Internet-appropriate action to take is to simply say
“I need to stop now. I’ve enjoyed chatting with you, but I don’t think we’re a match. I don’t want to waste any more of your time. Best of luck in your search.” Wait for a reply. If it’s an argument telling you why you are a match, simply sign off. Don’t engage in further IMs.
And for the record, the inappropriate actions are:
- Poofing — just breaking off the conversation in mid-stream and logging off. Would you hang up the phone in mid-conversation if you got bored?
- Saying “Gotta go” and logging off.
- Responding with anger or obscenities, even if some were directed at you.
- Sending a pornographic photo for shock value.
Regarding those first two actions, your prospect would probably think you had computer problems and keep trying to reach you, which isn’t what you want. Regarding the third action, no stranger is worth any emotional investment on your part, especially negative ones. Don’t go away mad. Just go away. And regarding the porno action, sending pornographic material can be construed as harassment and get you into a heap of legal trouble.
When people are clueless
Occasionally, you’ll run into people who just won’t stop contacting you even after you’ve rejected them. Most often, people don’t let go because they’ve developed fantasies from your photo and essay. When you start exchanging messages, the fantasies grow. If you’re still anonymous, the situation probably isn’t dangerous, but you may still feel uncomfortable.
When your goal is to make a clean break from the person who won’t let go (or any prospect, for that matter), never argue or defend yourself. You have to accept the bad guy or girl role unless you want to create an even angrier person out of your former prospect.
Realize that many people forget how little time they actually have invested in their exchanges and that they don’t have a good perspective on their circumstances.
If all else fails, let them down hard
When someone just won’t quit bothering you and all else fails, you have to dispense with being polite. Just as dogs get only one bite (actually, they don’t get any free bites), your discouraged suitor gets only one “apology” from you. Then it’s over, babe.
The following line is pretty darn effective but only use it as a last resort:
“You need to know that if you attempt to contact me again, I’ll report your activities as an abuse to the dating site. The site will then begin to monitor all your email messages and kick you off the system if it doesn’t like what you’re writing.”
Afterward, break off the communication. From then on, your approach is no reply, no comment, no nothing.