By Erika Ettin
Tribune News Service
Nühanzi Article Summary (tl;dr) How do you politely decline a second or third date with someone? The term “ghosting” where a man or woman vanishes after meeting has become a popular term these days. As dating expert Erika Ettin points out, honesty is the best policy NOT “ghosting.” Ettin says, “As I tell my clients, while someone might be disappointed that you don’t have romantic feelings, he or she can’t really be upset with you for having the feelings you do. You just have to share them.”
Tribune News Service
I’ve talked many times about how ghosting is bad. What is ghosting again? It’s simply deciding not to see someone again but not having the courtesy to tell that person. It’s cowardly.
With the use of modern technology, especially texting, it’s almost too easy to think of people as disposable. But remember that people are not things, like the empty dish soap container you no longer need or the movie you had to leave halfway through. People have feelings. For that reason alone, you need to buck up and have an actual, real conversation, whether you’ve been on two dates or 20.
I had this conversation recently with a client of mine in Atlanta. She went out on one date with someone who she decided wasn’t a match for her. He, on the other hand, wanted to see her again. He texted her afterwards. She didn’t answer. He texted again. She again didn’t answer. He then emailed her. She deleted it. She thought he should just “get it.” He didn’t. He put himself out there, and she owed him the courtesy of a response.
All she had to do was kindly, tactfully, and honestly say, “Thanks so much for your note. I had a nice time meeting you, too! Unfortunately, I’m just not feeling that romantic connection and will have to pass on meeting again, but I wish you all the best!” That seems easy, right? Because it is.
I also got this email from a male client, just today:
“That same week I went out with a gal on a Friday night to dinner and then drinks. One of her roommates and a friend ‘randomly’ showed up and we hung out for a while. Then they left. We made out. I walked her back to her place. Kissed some more. She said she could meet the Thursday before Labor Day weekend, and told me to text her when I got home. So I did and said I had a lovely time and that I looked forward to seeing her again. She wrote back, ‘Great! I had a blast tonight!’ We texted some more the next day. Then I left for Vegas for work. On the following Tuesday I called and left a voicemail. Wednesday night, I texted to see what she wanted to do. She totally ghosted. Never heard from her. What’s weird is that she hasn’t been on OKCupid since the day of our date. Just kind of bizarre. I hate ghosting.”
Last but not least, a friend once emailed me her dilemma:
“I went out with the French guy from online who I had a nice e-lationship’ with. The date was fine. I don’t really have complaints, but I also do not have butterflies whatsoever, not even moths fluttering around. I think the attraction was not there. He has now been texting, but I couldn’t get myself to text him back yesterday. I just don’t think I want to hang again. Is that bad? Should I give it another shot? Also, if not, do I need to let him know that nicely or do I just not write back? Ugh I never know what to do!”
“Well, I’m glad the e-lationship with the guy ended and you finally met. Did he at least have a sexy accent? Unfortunately, only you know whether there’s enough potential to go out with him again. If you think there’s even a small chance, it can’t hurt to have another drink. Some people do get nervous on the first date, and attraction definitely grows the more you get to know and like someone’s personality. But that one is up to you. As for letting him know vs. not, in this day and age, as you know, most people do not get back to someone after the first date if they don’t want to go out again. Given that he did text, you could let it go, which I’m sure is what most people would do. But the better, more mature, response would be to say, ‘I had a great time the other night. Not sure I felt the spark, but thanks again for the drink!’ That way, it’s honest, and if you ever run into each other, he can’t fault you for being truthful. I’ve found that it’s typically the best policy because the non-response gets awkward sometimes, and with the city being so small, you’re bound to run into people. Let me know what you decide to do.”
In these cases, it happened to be the woman doing the ghosting, but it happens to both men and women. The lesson here is to be tactful, be honest, and be nice, and you can’t go wrong. As I tell my clients, while someone might be disappointed that you don’t have romantic feelings, he or she can’t really be upset with you for having the feelings you do. You just have to share them.
(Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating.)