Rejection: How to Let Him Down Easy

One of my dating coaching clients, Annie, asked me a question about how to break off with a man early in the dating process. Here’s her story.

The Background
She met Art online where he struck up a conversation which continued through instant messaging and email. Annie felt excited! He had a decent profile, was good looking, had lots of the things she wanted and things in common.  Art said he’ll call Wednesday night, but he didn’t.

The next day, Art sent her an email saying he wanted to be “honest” and admitted he went to a baseball game and thought it was too late to call when he got home. Annie told me it was “nice”  he thought about her, but he could have either emailed to say he’d call another time.

Annie and Art had additional conversations via instant messenger and he invited her to dinner for Saturday night. Again, he said he’d call to discuss details, but disappointed her.

The next day Art emailed to explain and Annie responded by saying she thought he was married or he was not a man of his word. Either way, she wasn’t interested. Art reacted angrily and defended himself. He insisted Annie was too  hard on him.

How many chance should she give him?
Annie  asked me how she should know when enough is enough? She felt ignoring his second “no show,” would send the message that his behavior was acceptable, which it wasn’t. Yet, after this whole troubling exchange, she had started to doubt herself.

As her dating coach, I told Annie she did the right thing. Art had shown his true colors. If a guy can’t follow through on a simple phone call – what can he follow through on?  People are at their best behavior prior to and during the first three dates. Since that’s not how she wanted to be treated, ending the conversation was the best course of action.

How much honesty is required?
However, I shared with Annie an important strategy on how you let someone know it’s over.  Art had felt she delivered a harsh message because Annie had been very honest and direct. Most people say they want honesty – but that’s not exactly true.  For example, how many women want the truthful answer to, “Do these pants make my butt look fat?”

When you think about it, nobody actually wants to hear why she or he is being rejected. People say they want to know. But if someone doesn’t think you’re attractive enough,smart enough, have a good sense of humor, or the right education, have different morals, values or agendas, do you really want to hear that? I doubt it.

Is there any reason you’d actually want to hear that would make you feel good? Not really.

The best way to end a brief dating situation is to say as little as possible. Some folks prefer to avoid responding as the way to let a date down. Men often disappear because it doesn’t create any confrontation or big emotional scene.

The best rejection messages
However, if you want to say something, here are a few suggestions for delivering a rejection message. Annie could have said:

1) I’ve met someone else

2) Sorry, but I’ve moved on

3) The chemistry isn’t quite right

4) The chemistry isn’t what I had in mind

These responses are more about her versus her date and aren’t very personal, making them easier to hear. In addition, these statements can’t be argued with and limit possible defensive responses and arguments that might follow. The less said, the better for both parties.