Story time.

A few months ago, I was out with friends at one of our neighborhood hangs. I had actually been quite content with the idea of spending the evening at home in my comfy pants, but in an effort to put myself out there, I decided to join. They had invited another friend who I hit it off with, and the two of us ended up going out on a date the following week. He was cool, the food at the restaurant we went to was good, and it was generally a nice date. All that to say, I didn’t see it going anywhere.

So when he asked if I wanted to go on a second date, I had one of two options: I could either ghost him, or I could be upfront about my feelings.

Having dipped my toe into the dating pool this year, I have become intimately familiar with the concept of ghosting. In case you aren’t sure what the term means, ghosting is when all communication from someone ends with no explanation. I don’t think all ghosting is necessarily bad; sometimes the conversation just kind of comes to a natural end and both people seem to be on the same page about not wanting to continue without having to explicitly say it. Other times, it can happen after going out on a date and you’re left wondering what you did wrong.

The thing about ghosting is that it’s easy. It’s easy to just stop talking to someone without having to explain why. But it’s a cop out.

image by Jenny Sathngam

Trust me, I get it. It’s so much easier to ghost than to tell someone that you don’t see the relationship going anywhere and having to explain the why. Especially if, like me, you’re concerned with being a well-liked person, the idea of hurting someone’s feelings because you’re not interested in pursuing a relationship with them is a nightmare.

Having to tell someone that you don’t want to see them anymore sucks. It’s literally the whole “it’s not you, it’s me” speech, and it’s not fun to tell someone that. I’d never written one of those messages or delivered those words before, and I spent literal hours agonizing over the right way to let this guy down easy without hurting his feelings. We’d only been on one date, and I was still so concerned! Lucky for me, one of my best friends helped me craft a message that was honest and thoughtful, and allowed for both of us to move past the situation without too much awkwardness. She also gave me some generally good advice about how to part ways respectfully when in those beginning days of dating:

image from Kinfolk

The sooner the better.

I knew I didn’t want to go on a second date the day after our first date. But I made the mistake of continuing to text and message the guy for the week after we went out, which probably gave him the impression that I was still interested — and encouraged him to ask me out again. I’m not saying you have to message someone right after you meet them to tell them you’re not into it, but when you know things aren’t working for you, don’t prolong it. It’s not fair to them, and it’s not fair to you. Cut the cord and allow both of you to move on to better things.

Be honest.

Simple but true. I would much rather have someone else tell me if they don’t see a relationship going anywhere, than to make up some dramatic excuse. It might sting a little, but at the end of the day, being honest means respecting each others’ feelings. I guarantee you that the other person will appreciate your straight-forwardness so you can both move on. And be honest with yourself as well! I almost convinced myself to go on a second date just because I felt bad about the possibility of hurting someone’s feelings. Parting ways for honest and real reasons means that you respect not only them, but yourself as well.

image by photographs by teresa

Be clear and be kind.

While I was trying to craft my message to this guy, I read lots of advice from the internet. Some of it was good, some not so much. My friend said it best though: be clear and be kind. Be positive about the experience: you could mention that you had a good time on the date, and were appreciative of the other person spending time with you. You don’t have to lay it on thick to assuage your guilt, but let the other person know in a clear and kind way how you feel.

Letting someone down, while uncomfortable, doesn’t have to be awkward. By being straightforward with how you feel, you’re setting both yourself and the other person up for success in your dating future.

Do y’all have any tips for kindly parting ways with someone?

2 comments
  1. 1
    Colleen McCarthyp | February 27, 2020 at 7:27 am

    That’s true of any relationship.
    Always be honest, but kind.
    Even in relationships you already have.
    I’ve been married for 43 years & that’s the number one thing we’ve always had.???

    Reply
  2. 2
    Ardith | February 27, 2020 at 8:12 am

    Thank you for this fine and timely article. From my perspective, too many people are exceptionally comfortable with the ghosting concept, generally as well as specifically. From not responding to questions embedded in text and emails, to not responding to messages at all…up to not having direct conversations about relationships (i.e. setting expectations to begin with, let alone addressing the need to part ways).

    Ghosting has become the default way to [not] deal with a wide range of human interaction…or rather lack thereof. It’s little wonder that there is so much animosity and feelings of isolation pervading society today.

    It all boils down to respect, doesn’t it? Direct yet tactful conversations demonstrate respect for both parties. Avoidance, which is what ghosting is, demonstrates the opposite. Isn’t it time for all of us to show our due respect for one another?

    Reply
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Amy Frances