Saying no to a second date may feel like rejection to the other person


**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events that I have experienced firsthand; used with permission.

It was an amazing first date. We went to this new Italian spot that recently opened downtown. The conversation flowed smoothly, and we laughed a lot. I could tell he was enjoying himself. But there was one thing that stuck out to me as a little bit odd.

He never made eye contact.

I’m not sure if it was just nerves, but he would constantly look around the room and never directly at me. Maybe he was just really interested in my hair or something. It made me feel uneasy, but I tried to push those thoughts aside.

Overall, I had a great time. But every time he avoided my gaze, the hackles on the back of my neck would raise just a bit.

After the date, I wasn’t sure if I would see him again. He texted me later that night and said he had fun and wanted to do it again sometime. I responded and said that I had a good time, but I didn’t think we were a match. He never responded.

I’m not sure what his deal was, but it was disconcerting. I’m glad I decided to listen to my “HUT” (heart and gut) and not to pursue anything further with him. But I couldn’t help but wonder if I could have taken a softer approach.

It can be tough to turn down a second date, especially if you don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings. But sometimes, you just know that it’s not going to work out. Maybe there was no chemistry, or you realized that you’re not looking for the same things. Or perhaps, as was my case, there was just something that made you feel icky.

No matter the why, saying yes to a second date with someone you’re just not into is a waste of time — yours and theirs. So how do you turn down a second date without being a jerk? Here are five tips to help you let them down easy:

Be honest

The best way to turn someone down is, to be honest with them. If you don’t feel a connection, or if you just didn’t have a good time, tell them. I know this is easier said than done, but honesty is like Occam’s Razor. The most simplest answer is usually the right one.

“I had a good time, but I don’t think we’re a match.”

“I didn’t feel a connection.”

“I’m not looking for anything serious right now.”

These are all perfectly valid reasons to turn down a second date. And by being honest with them, you’re being respectful of their time and feelings.

“When you understand how to say no and mean it, you, ironically, increase your options, because you’ll be more likely to take a chance because you know that you’ll be able to get rid of the person if it doesn’t work out.” — Kathryn J Lively Ph.D.

Be direct

Don’t beat around the bush or make excuses. Just be direct and say that you’re not interested. The other person may feel rejected no matter what, but it’s better than leading them on.

Avoid saying things like “maybe in the future” or “let’s be friends.” This could make it harder for them to move on.

Be kind

Even though you’re saying no, there’s no need to be rude about it. Lack of interest aside, this is still another human being, and their feelings matter. So be kind and compassionate in your rejection. And whatever you do, don’t ghost them.

Ghosting is a cowardly way to end things and will only leave the other person feeling worse. If you ghost someone, there’s always a chance you’ll run into them again. And it will be awkward. So just don’t do it.

Be firm

Don’t leave the door open for interpretation. If you say you’re not interested, make it clear that you mean it. When you don’t say no like you mean it, the other person may think you’re just playing hard to get. And that’s not fair to them or you.

Remember, you’re saying no to a second date for a reason. So in the big scheme of things, it’s for the best. And if you handle it the right way, the other person will be able to move on too.

“While such a quick and clear decline may seem harsh or severe, it is actually the best way to spare everyone’s feelings in the long run. Done in a polite manner, a clear answer also shows the most responsiveness and respect for the individual making the request.” — Jeremy Nicholson M.S.W., Ph.D.

Be grateful

Someone asking you out on a second date means that they’re interested in you. So even though you’re saying no, be sure to express your appreciation for their interest. But don’t make it too syrupy, or they might get the wrong idea. In these kinds of situations, less is definitely more.

“To smooth out the explicit and clear rejection, if possible, convey it in a way that is positive and respectful too. This could be something as simple as “Thank you for asking,” or “I appreciate the thought” at the start of a response. When necessary, this helps to build some momentary rapport and reduce the likelihood that the requester will feel disrespected.” — Jeremy Nicholson M.S.W., Ph.D.

Saying no to a second date doesn’t have to be complicated or painful. Just remember to be honest, direct, and kind. And if you’re ever in doubt, just listen to your “HUT,” which will usually lead you in the right direction.

Remember, it’s far more critical to be kind than it is to be nice. So don’t be afraid to turn someone down if you’re just not feeling it. It’s better to do that than to lead them on and break their heart down the road.

What's the best way to turn down a second date? Have you ever had to do it? Share your story in the comments below!

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Intimacy & Relationship coach, writer, and creator of The Sensuality Project. I specialize in Relationship-ing (it's a verb).

Los Angeles County, CA

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