Dating After Divorce: Serving Up Rejection – The Best Way to End a Brief Relationship

Dear Ronnie,

I have a question about how to break off with a man early in the process. Bill struck up a conversation online through Match.com. He had a nice profile, not bad looking, lots of the things I’m looking for and many things in common. OK, I was excited.  Bill said he’ll call Tuesday night. But he didn’t call. 

The next day, Bill sends me an instant message (IM) at work saying he wanted to be "honest" with me. He admitted that he went to a sporting event and thought it was too late to call when he got home. Ok, I think – nice that he was thinking of me, but he could have either IM’d, emailed, or called to say that we could talk another time.

We chat a bit more via instant messenger and he invites me to dinner for Saturday night and says he’ll call me that night. Guess what? – No cal!.

The next day he emails and I tell him that I’m thinking either he is married, or he is not a man of his word – either way, I’m not interested. He took great offense, defended himself; and insists that I was too rough on him.

My question is – when do you say enough is enough? I felt that if I ignored his second "no show," I’d be sending the message that this is acceptable behavior, which it’s not for me. Of course, now I am doubting myself and my reactions.

Doubtful in Dedham

Dear Doubtful,

From thids dating coach’s perspective, yo udid the right thing. Why continue when there is nothing to continue? He has already shown his true colors and things probably won’t get any better than this. Since you admitted that’s not how you want to be treated (and who would want that?), walking away was the right thing to do.

However,how you let someone know this is a different story. Here’s what I’ve learned about men and women, the brush off, and honesty. We all say we want honesty – but that’s not exactly true. We want honesty so we can build trust, but 100% honesty is probably not the best all-round policy. The degree of honesty depends on what the discussion is. For example, no woman wants the truthful answer to, "Do these pants make my butt look fat?" 

So, when you think aobut it, nobody actually wants to hear why s/he is being rejected. People may say they want to know. But if someone doesn’t think you’re attractive enough – do you want to know that? If someone doesn’t think you are smart enough, have a similar sense of humor, or the right education, have different morals, values or agendas, do you really want to hear that?

To me, the answer is "No, I don’t want to hear it" Frankly, if you’ve haven’t had more than a few dates with the person, I think everyone is better off without an explanation.  Think about it. Is there any reason you’d actually want to hear that would feel good? 

The best way to end a brief encounter is to say as little as possible or perhaps avoid responding entirely. Although that may seem odd or less than honest, it’s often the kindest solution. Men often do the disappearing act because it doesn’t create any confrontration or big emotional scenes.

For the future, here are a few suggestions for delivering a message of rejection. You can say:
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 you versus your date and aren’t too personal, aren’t that hard to take and can’t really be argued with either. That’s important to limit any possible defensive responses.

I do agree with your situation analysis –if a person can’t follow through on a simple phone call – what can s/he follow through on? You got out at the right time without wasting any. Since he was already "dissing" you and you hadn’t even talked on the phone yet, the likelihood for it to continue downhill was very strong. People are at their best behavior prior to and during the first three dates. My bet is that Bill can’t be honest with himself about his inability to follow through, so of course he took offense.

Sorry Bill didn’t follow through, but there are many more prospects where he came from. Here’s to not having to use these lines too often before you find the love you want!

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