In one of my favorite episodes of Friends, Chandler goes on a date with Rachel’s boss Joanna, but he doesn’t want to see her again. After the date, rather than saying goodbye and walking away, he lingers in the awkward conversation and finally blurts out, “Well, this was great! I’ll give you a call; we should do it again sometime!” Rachel pulls him aside and asks if he is in fact going to call her, and he scoffs and says no.
We’ve all been there! But as someone who has been on both sides of the “no second date” situation, I can tell you with 100 percent confidence that sparing someone's feelings isn't wise—being direct and honest is the way to go. When you decide to politely tell a guy you don’t want to go out again, you will feel proud of yourself, and he’ll get the closure he deserves.
Even though things are hardly serious at this early stage, I know it can be hard to actually say (or type) the words. That’s why I’ve laid out some easy to follow directives—these are the dos and don’ts of declining a second date.
The 4 Don’ts of Declining a Second Date
01. DON’T . . . lead him on.
When you’re single, loneliness can come with the territory. And when you’re lonely, it’s easy to let your desire for a little attention drive you to draw out relationships with men you’re not really interested in. I know how tempting this is, and I’ve engaged in this bad behavior plenty of times myself. Leading a man on—by “breadcrumbing” him with noncommittal texts and vague rescheduling plans—is immature in any dating situation, but especially unnecessary after only one date.
02. DON’T . . . ghost.
Men dislike ghosting as much as women do. Leaving someone hanging like this is the worst kind of dating behavior. If you only went on one date with a man, you don’t need to be afraid of letting him down gently! Ghosting doesn’t accomplish that—it just leaves him feeling confused and pokes a hole in his trust when it comes to women.
03. DON’T . . . be mean.
Unless this guy did something offensive, rude or inappropriate, you don’t need to berate him with reasons you don’t want to go out again. Don’t tell him he had bad breath. Don’t tell him he talked too much or didn’t seem to have his life together. When you’re in the power position of rejecting someone, there’s no need to kick him while he is down.
04. DON’T . . . make up excuses or lie.
Listen, I know what you’re thinking because I’ve thought it, too. Once you’ve decided you don’t want to go out with someone again, your mind starts racing toward the easiest possible way you could get this guy out of your hair. You think, “I’ll just tell him I met someone else,” or “I’ll tell him I’m really busy with work right now.” And while you can do that, please don’t. After one date, you don’t owe him anything, and you have the right to take this moment and speak your truth.
The 4 Dos of Declining a Second Date
01. DO . . . have the conversation at a distance.
The most likely scenario for this conversation is either over the phone or via text. If a guy asks you for a second date in person—like right at the end of the first date—you don’t have to crush his dreams right there on the sidewalk. If he fishes for a promise with something like, “I would love to see you again…” suggest something like, “I’ll have to check my schedule. Why don’t you call or text me later this week?” A more casual conversation through your phone is perfectly acceptable and far more likely, actually.
02. DO . . . lead with a compliment.
When the moment arrives, I recommend leading with a compliment, either about him or your last date. It could be as simple as “I had a great time with you last week” or “I think you’re totally hilarious.” There’s no need to overdo it, though it’s important not to send mixed messages. Deliver a kind comment that serves as a sort of “It’s not you, it’s me” without actually having to say such a cliche line. (And remember, it’s not as serious as all that! We’re talking one date here, people!)
03. DO . . . be direct.
According to a study conducted by the Hinge dating app in May of this year, only 14 percent of women felt comfortable being blunt when they don’t want to see someone again, as opposed to 29 percent of men. Ladies, we can be better than this! I’ve come up with three boilerplate phrases you can use to let this guy know—definitively but kindly—that you don’t want to go out with him again. Here they are:
“I don't feel confident in our chemistry.”
“Ultimately I think we’re better as friends.”
“I don’t really think we’re a good match.”
04. DO . . . wrap it up.
Finally, conclude the conversation by being, well, conclusive. If you’re writing this out as a text, your last sentence should be a definitive wrap up that doesn’t invite debate or confusion. A simple “Appreciate your understanding,” should do it. If you’re doing this conversation over the phone, give him a moment to respond. Most likely, he’ll say something like, “OK, thanks for letting me know,” and try to get off the phone as quickly as possible. You can tie things off similarly to the text script by saying, “Thanks for understanding,” but try not to blurt out something like “Have a nice life!” or “Talk to you later!”
The important thing to remember here is that after one or even two dates, you don’t owe a guy anything. You do not need to feel guilty for not wanting to date someone. You don’t need to be overly apologetic about it either. Did you notice I didn’t use the word “sorry” once? There’s a reason. You have nothing to be sorry for when it comes to letting someone down. Own your choice, state it clearly and then continue right along in your search for Mr. Right.