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#614: Saying “no, but thanks!” after a date someone set you up on.

Hello Awkwardeers,

I was recently on a double date with a family member, their spouse, and an acquaintance of said spouse. The family member sold it to me as a “try it out and see what happens sort of thing” but I’m not sure if that’s how it came across to the Acquaintance. Acquaintance really seemed to think it was a Real First Date(tm) and now I have no idea how to manage this.

Basically, I’m a single female and I’ve only been completely on my own for a half a year, and I’m only just being able to define who I am and what I want. I’m really not interesting in any romantic relationships, unless the guy is a Super Amazing Fantastic Wonderful and All Around Good Guy. And Acquaintance was perfectly nice, but not enough of a Super Amazing Fantastic Wonderful and All Around Good Guy to get me out of my aggressively chosen singledom. Which is not his fault, I’m just not interested. In addition, I basically had a mini panic attack when he added me on social media after our date/not date. So where do I go from here? How do I let Acquaintance know that I’m not ready for a relationship and probably won’t be for a very long time, and it’s got nothing to do with him?

Thanks,
Awkward Single Lady

Dear Awkward Single Lady:

You do not have to accept this person’s social media friend request if you do not think you want to interact with him there or if it made you feel weird. You are allowed to totally ignore it, especially for now when you’re still making up your mind if you even want him in your life in a “passing acquaintance” sort of capacity. 

Right now, you could tell the family member who set you up, “Thanks for thinking of me, it was nice to meet Mr. So-and-So and spend time with you, but I do not want to go on any more dates with him, and I’d prefer no more setups just now.” They might try to press you for reasons or ask why you won’t just give him a chance. You don’t have to have a convincing list of reasons, either for yourself or for them. “Don’t wanna” is the reason. See also: “Not feeling it.” “I’m really enjoying being single right now.” Keep it simple and subjective. You don’t have to win this on logical grounds. Telling a thwarted matchmaker something specific, like, “He chews with his mouth open and kept interrupting me” is just inviting them to argue with you. “He was just nervous! You’re really going to reject someone for that?” Also, it is okay to tell your relative & your spouse “no thanks” to future setups. “We’d love you to come meet our coworker, and just see how it goes!” “Thanks! But no thanks.” “Why not? You never know!” “I’m enjoying being single right now. I’ll let you know if that changes.” 

Otherwise, it’s not a given that any first date will ever lead to a second date, never mind a relationship. You don’t have to test out your theory that it won’t work and it isn’t want you want, you can act on your hypothesis. You are a nice person who wants to save this guy the embarrassment and effort of reaching out again only to be rejected, and that’s admirable, but anything you do to pre-empt that will come across as presumptive. You’re not responsible if your relative & their spouse oversold the thing to him. You’re not responsible if he likes you more than you like him. You are only responsible for being true to your own desires and communicating them as cleanly as you can. Assume nothing on his part, unless he makes a direct request for another date, at which point you say, “No, thank you.” 

But I thought…”

“It was nice of Relative to introduce us, and very nice of you to come out, but I don’t want to go on more dates. Thank you for asking, though.”

“But Relative said…”

“Huh, they said that? I apologize if they’ve oversold it, that’s not cool at all, and I hate that we’re both in this awkward position. I’m so glad you talked to me directly, so we can clear the air, but I’m not interested in more dates.” 

You have nothing to apologize for for being single or for saying “no thanks!” when you’re not feeling That Thing. Be kind and be direct. 

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65 comments
  1. If you tell Family Member and Family Member’s Spouse that you’re not feelin’ it, they might pass the information on to Acquaintance themselves. Not that they’re obligated to, but they might feel like it if Acquaintance asks them directly.

    Good luck. Avoiding rejection scenes is one of the best parts of aggressively chosen singledom.

  2. MK said:

    Actually, I found that one of the best things about being set-up with someone is that, if either of us doesn’t want to pursue this, the matchmakers break the news for you. Usually there is a “how did you like him?” chat afterwards or the next day and, when I communicated that I wasn’t interested, I never heard another thing about it. But that depends on how discrete your relatives are.

    OP, the distinction you are trying to make between “casual meeting” or “Real First Date” doesn’t seem important to me. After all, the point of both of them is to decide if you want to see the other person again. Also, adding you on social media may mean nothing; some people are compulsive about it and do it automatically with all new aquaintances. However, there might be an opportunity here: if you don’t respond or deny his requests and generally ignore him, he might get the message without the awkward conversation.

    • meek-bookworm said:

      Seconding the “social media may mean nothing” thing. I’ve met people who will look me up on their phone after a 5min chat and friend me. It may be his way of saying he wants to be closer to you, but then you don’t have to respond.

      Also, you probably don’t need to contact Acquaintance on his own at all. If relatives ask, or he contacts you, you can say that Acquaintance seemed like a good guy, but you’re happy being single. Even if Relatives gave Acquaintance the impression that you were looking for someone (which is true in a way, you’re looking for SAFWaAAGG) I don’t see how having an “Maybe I would date you if I was a little more open/desperate, but I’m not yet” conversation would help anyone.

      • Cactus said:

        Ha, one time I was on a random first date with a dude at a bar, and I wasn’t even friends with HIM on Facebook yet, but we ran into a bunch of his friends (some of whom seemed cool, one of whom was a conspiracy theorist who would not shut up), and when I got home I saw one of them had actually sent me a friend request. That was odd.

        • Adrian said:

          People use social media in very different ways. As far as I can tell, some people try to “friend” everybody they have any contact with at all. Not just people they have real emotional connections with, not just people they are trying to date. Everybody. Sometimes I make minimal professional contact with a person (they call or send email, we determine I can’t help them or they can’t afford me), and later they send email asking me to join facebook and friend them. This has happened 3 times this year.

          • mskyle said:

            I think for a lot of people it’s just like adding you to their contact list, or sort of filing you away for future reference. I generally tend towards friend-and-filter-and-unfollow, personally, but there’s nothing wrong with not friending someone for any reason. I mean, all else aside, he most likely has no idea how much time you spend on facebook or how engaged with it you are.

  3. duck-billed placelot said:

    LW, I think you should also give yourself permission to embrace the idea that not wanting to date him is absolutely all about him (in contrast with ‘having nothing to do with him’). He is not Terrifyingly Amazing enough for your bad-ass self. I mean, don’t change a thing from the Captain’s advice on how to proceed, no need to explain to him that it’s all about him, but it might help you manage anxiety/guilt around this kind of setup or future casual date things if you just let yourself live in how super fantastic YOU are, and how a dude not measuring up is exactly that, not some instance of you not being the correct amount of accommodating.

    • boutet said:

      Yes! It’s like the “it’s not you, it’s me” thing. It is them, at least in part. You don’t have to say “it’s you” or run the guy down to turn him down if he comes asking for more dates. But you can choose to not date someone because “it’s them.” It doesn’t have to be “you” for you to be a good person, or justified in rejecting them, or whatever. It’s okay if it’s “them.”

      • Dr Sarah said:

        It’s also perfectly OK – and probably what’s actually happening here – for it not to be *either* of you, and for the two of you to be, as the saying goes, two nice people not meant for each other. I’m betting there’s another great person out there who *will* find this guy to be Terrifyingly Amazing, just because he’s amazing in a way that’s right for zer and not for you.

      • KellyK said:

        Absolutely! (It’s also usually both. Unless they’re an objectively awful person, they’d probably make a great partner for someone who isn’t you. But that doesn’t mean you owe them “a chance” or “a good reason.”)

  4. Yeah. Real First Dates (in fact, real first *few* dates) *are* ‘try it out and see what happens’ things. That’s their function in the scheme of getting to know someone.

    • hummingbear said:

      I get that that’s how it’s *supposed* to be, in theory. In practice, anything labeled a date tends to create hopes/expectations and (at least slightly) hurt feelings when someone doesn’t want to go further, vs. a true casual meeting where you genuinely just happened to run into a friend of a friend, with zero expectations or dashed hopes because you weren’t predefined as Possible Romantic Connections.

      So I feel for LW; disappointing someone, even just a little, is unpleasant.

      • I find anything labelled a date tends to create anxiety, pressure, and a growing hope that the other person will suddenly need to cancel due to a penguin attack so that I won’t need to sit through the date before they figure out we’re not interested in each other.

        (This doesn’t apply to people I already know well enough to comfortably hang out with, thank goodness. But.)

        I feel for LW, but not because I think they disappointed someone; I feel for them because they were soft-soaped into it (I side-eye “it’s a date! You don’t want a date? Okay, so it’s not really a date but you’re coming, right?” SO DAMN HARD), and pressured afterwards.

        • bloodygranuaile said:

          I’m side-eyeing that bit too. I’m 26 and I don’t like dating, which means I have been putting up with “A date is a romantic thing! Unless that means you don’t want to go on it, in which case it’s the same thing as hanging out! You like hanging out, right?” for at least a dozen years now. It drives me up the wall.

  5. Groovy Biscuit Intervention said:

    “The family member sold it to me as a “try it out and see what happens sort of thing” but I’m not sure if that’s how it came across to the Acquaintance.”

    I’m wondering whether it’s not so much a case of how it came across to the Acquaintance as how it was sold to the Acquaintance? If there’s any possibility that Family Member is ‘helpfully’ trying to set you up with Acquaintances because poor single you must certainly want to be in a relationship, then that seems to me the bigger problem because even one this Acquaintance is struck off as a possibility, they may wheel out the next one. In which case, I would definitely second the Captain’s advice about speaking with Family Member and emphasising your happy singledom and definite aversion to being set up with potential romantic partners at the moment. And, if you think they might not actually respect that, it might also be worth having some introductory scripts up your sleeve for use on any occasion you find yourself being introduced to someone by a Family Member with a glint in their eye – something to set an expectation that this is a nice non-date social encounter.

  6. HostaPasta said:

    Also, if you already added/friended/followed him, it’s okay to undo it. You do not have to keep Dude I Went Out With Once With My Relatives in the loop about your life. Two skips, might, parsing. You also don’t have to justify this to him. You get to decide who gets to be invested in your life.

    Any walks od ‘but whyyyyyyyyyyyy?’ can be taken a proof that you were doubly right to remove him.

    • HostaPasta said:

      Ahem. My phone. I read before posting, but never catch the autocorrects.

      Anyway. Two ships, night, passing. And any wails of ‘whyyyyy?’ can be ignored/taken a extra justification to remove him from social media.

      • Dr Sarah said:

        I was trying to figure out the ‘Two skips, might, parsing’ thing and guessed that it was referring to this guy having skipped a couple of steps if he’d assumed this would develop into a relationship, such as the step about realising that this only *might* happen, and… anyway, finding out it was just an autocorrect thing makes vastly more sense. :)

        • Chandra said:

          So glad I’m not the only one who’ll come up with extended explanations to stuff like this. :)

      • Jill said:

        “Two skips, might, parsing” is a lovely accidental turn of phrase. It feels like a poem title.

      • Hahahahah! I loved “two skips, might, parsing”. It sounds like a snippet of a conversation between compiler designers.

      • boutet said:

        I was momentarily convinced that it was a saying I was not familiar with. I was all ready to Google it :P

  7. Hey LW, I’m so glad you’re enjoying being single! It sounds like you’re having a good time and I’m happy for you.

    This situation seems unfair to you. If I read things right you were busy enjoying being single and they sneakily set you up on a sneak-date. You thought it would be one thing, your date as it were had other expectations and then… crash boom bang. How are you coping with that? It’s okay to be angry. It’s definitely okay to ask them to stay out of your love life for the time being.

    I’m gonna vote for ”if you want something done right, do it yourself” here. I get the temptation to pass off the ”thanks but no thanks” to the family member and hope they do it for you. After all, they were the one to set you up in the first place. Shouldn’t it be their job to clean things up as well?

    And yeah, perhaps. The thing is, managing his expectations vs your disinterest can easily turn into them grasping for straws to smooth things over à la “Oh, she’s just shy”. Or better yet ”she’s not looking for a relationship…right now”. And then he gets some hope and things drag out. Can you tell I’ve got some not fun- experience of this?

    Of course YMMV. I’ve found it best to talk to the other person directly. That way you know what’s been said. I like the Captain’s suggestion. Don’t assume, don’t try to guess his feelings. Wait for him to contact you and then act out the awesome script. You are absolutely entitled to not have him around on your social media btw. Good luck!

  8. MK said:

    I have to say that this part of your post:

    “This situation seems unfair to you. If I read things right you were busy enjoying being single and they sneakily set you up on a sneak-date. You thought it would be one thing, your date as it were had other expectations and then… crash boom bang.”

    reads as overdramatic to me. To begin with, we don’t really know that the OP’s relatives did anything “sneakily”. They asked her to come meet their single friend and she agreed. When she met the guy the OP got the impression that this single friend considered their meeting as a “real first date” and not as a casual introduction, like she did and like her relatives had presented it as. Nothing the OP says suggests that anything of the “crass boom bang” variety happened; she doesn’t say that she felt embarassed or annoyed or threatened in any way, just that the single friend seemed more invested to their meeting than her.

    Now, it’s possible that the OP’s relatives presented this in one way to her and another to him. I honestly don’t understand why any sane person would do that, but some people are interfering busybodies and they may have thought they needed to push things along (I am assuming that the OP was open to them about not wanting a relationship right now). But it’s also possible that this single person interpreted “some meet my great single relative” as “I am setting you up on blind date”. The distinction seems to loom in the OP’s brain, but I confess that to me it doesn’t appear all that important: the situation is that a couple and their two not-previously-aquainted single friends/relatives meet to see if the two singles might want to date/whatever.

    From what I can tell, all that happened was that two people went out together with slightly different expectations: the OP was thinking “I am going to a meeting with my relatives and there will be a single person there. it’s not impossible that I will like him enough to date him”, while the single friend “I am going out to meet another single person to find out if we might like eachother and date”. Maybe the relatives gave both the single friend and the OP wrong information. But it’s much more likely that they might have gotten themselves the wrong impression from the OP’s agreeing to the meeting or that they might have given the single friend the wrong impression witout meaning to or that the single friend got the wrong impression all on his own. It’s even possible that it’s the OP who got the wrong impression; maybe this person is just too extroverted and comes across too strong to all his new aquaintances and immediately befriends everyone on social media. But there is no reason to accuse the relatives of orchestrating a conspiracy to rod the OP of her singleness.

  9. NotTeri said:

    If he didn’t ask you to join him and his friends (your relative and spouse) then it was not a Real First Date. It was a set up, a blind date, and as such doesn’t count; so wait until he does ask for a date and politely decline.

    • JenniferP said:

      “Real” first dates are also “try it and see” propositions, fortunately.

  10. Cari said:

    Facebook needs a “Not looking” or “Happily single” relationship status option.

    I do love they let you hide friend requests with the “Not now” button though. “Not now” is your friend, LW. Use it and don’t feel guilty :)

    • bloodygranuaile said:

      I agree with this thoroughly.

      • Jenesis said:

        Upvoted alongside a checkbox for “No one/Aseuxal” in the “interested in?” section.

  11. PintsizeBro said:

    I may be reading too much into this, but it sounds like OP has an “opt-in” attitude toward dating, while Acquaintance and/or the relatives have an “opt-out” attitude toward dating (at least as far as OP is concerned).

    To elaborate: someone who prefers “opt-in” is happy to be single unless they meet someone they really, really want to date. Someone who prefers “opt-out” wants to be in a relationship, and will date people based on their availability unless they have a concrete reason to not date that person. It’s not exactly that simple, and there are plenty of people who hold one attitude to their own preferences and the other to others’.

    OP is happy being single and while Acquaintance is a perfectly nice person, there’s nothing about him that makes her want to date him. But Acquaintance may want to be in a relationship, and because OP is a perfectly nice person he sees no reason to NOT date her.

    Like I said, I may be reading too much into this. It might just be that Acquaintance likes OP more than OP likes Acquaintance. Nothing wrong with that, it happens all the time. Regardless of the reason, though, nobody should need to justify not wanting to date another person. “Thanks, but I don’t want a second date/other blind dates. Acquaintance was perfectly nice, but I’m happier being single right now.”

    • jenfullmoon said:

      Ooooh, this opt-in vs. opt-out is a very good point!

    • This sounds very likely. I have been highly opt-in, and noticed it made me have a different view of things than some of my friends. I have used the metaphor I got from the book _Expecting Someone Taller_ ages ago. Love is like a pothole. If you fall into it, then that’s fine and you deal with it. But you don’t go looking for a pothole.

      It isn’t right for everyone, obviously, but it’s been a very good fit for me. I just make friends with people. Sometimes a friendship ends up turning romantic. But I never set out looking for that. If I fall for a friend, then I deal with that. I have, sometimes, gone looking for more friends though. And what I really wanted was simply more friends (new living location and thus no local friends).

      I don’t think it’s the right way to do things, but it’s certainly a way to do things. I think it’d be nice if it were more recognized as an acceptable way of going about things. I just don’t see the point of tossing an interaction into the dating/romantic area before I have any such feelings for somebody. So, until I know someone well enough to know if I have those feelings, why date? And if someone isn’t interested in me as a friend, then I don’t really think I’m interested in them in much of any way. And it’s too early into the process for it to make sense for them to be uncomfortable being friends due to strong feelings for me. So, making friends has worked quite well for me. And, of course, it’s totally cool to be single if you’re happy being single.

      • Sarah said:

        Yes! I am strongly opt-in on dating and it mystifies some of my friends. “But you have to put yourself out there! You have to try!” No. I don’t. I have built a life that is perfectly wonderful and does not require a partner. If a person comes along who is genuinely wonderful and fits my criteria of Things Required To Date Me (a list my friends also find mystifying), then I am open to giving them a chance. Otherwise, I will keep my life exactly as it is until I want to change it and I will not sign up for online dating or any kind of dating/hook up app, because, while great choices for many people, they are not great choices for me.

      • When She Was Good said:

        Oooo, I love Tom Holt! Sorry to go off-topic, I just had to jump in and say that because I’ve never met anyone other than my sister who knew his books. Expecting Someone Taller is one of my favorites, but I also really love Flying Dutch. I think I’ll have to spend some time this morning seeing if I can find his stuff for e-readers.

        • Isua said:

          I love Tom Holt too, and like you I’ve never really met others who’ve heard of him (hence my sudden delurking, woo hoo!) I go around quoting Who’s Afraid of Beowulf, which never fails to kill me dead and of course everyone else is just like huh? Now I want to go reread The Walled Garden.

          • When She Was Good said:

            I’m so happy to internet meet you! It’s nice to think that maybe we both will be spending our weekend reading his stuff. :)

    • thathat said:

      “someone who prefers “opt-in” is happy to be single unless they meet someone they really, really want to date. Someone who prefers “opt-out” wants to be in a relationship, and will date people based on their availability unless they have a concrete reason to not date that person.”

      Oh, holy hannah, that just explains so much about why my best friend and I always seem to be talking a different language when we discuss relationships and dating. He is so very much an opt-out, and I’m totally opt-in. (And opt-out weirds me out a bit, tbh.)

      • PintsizeBro said:

        It really does feel like you’re speaking a different language, doesn’t it? I can deal with friends who follow a different dating model from me, as long as we can accept that asking each other for relationship advice is probably not going to be helpful. “Just put yourself out there!” is unhelpful to someone who wants help getting over a specific person and pointless to someone who’s happy being single; “Try being single for a while!” isn’t helpful to someone whose express goal is to not be single.

        As an opt-in dater myself, I don’t entirely understand the opt-out model, but it seems to work for plenty of people. Where it becomes toxic, though, is trying to impose that model on someone else by trying to force a reason for saying no out of a person who has just turned you down in an attempt to get them to change their mind (See? You couldn’t give a concrete reason to not date me, therefore you should date me, even though you’ve already said you don’t want to!).

        • Queen of scarves said:

          Yeah! Just because one can date X person (no “concrete” reason not to), doesn’t mean that one therefore *should* date that person!

          • Loren said:

            Yes. This. I dealt with it this type of mindset a lot when I was single in college. And it sometimes made me the ‘bad guy’ when I wasn’t interested in returning a friend’s romantic interest. Saying “I don’t want to date him” wasn’t a good enough reason not to date in some mutual friends minds.
            I don’t think it helps that popular media has really romanticized the idea of ‘winning a person over’, that eventually a “No” becomes a “Yes” if you just try hard enough and are patient. Being the subject of a crush or admired from afar has become desirable, but every time I’ve had the experience it just got weird.

      • deepforest said:

        This. I have never understood the “go looking for a boyfriend” attitude. In high school, my best friend (and also my sister) would periodically ask me when I was going to get a boyfriend. They didn’t seem to get that I wasn’t particularly interested in having one; said friend would also talk about her relationship drama, mostly seeming to consist of her wanting a boyfriend and not having one. I am now dating someone and quite happy with that, but said someone was one of my best friends for years before I even developed a crush on him, and I certainly wouldn’t have considered dating someone in order to get to know them.

        • JenniferP said:

          I don’t think there is anything wrong with actively seeking out potential people to date (like, signing up for a dating site, for instance). Not everyone is so lucky in their friends.

          • PintsizeBro said:

            I freely admit my own biases show through in my summary! I’ve used both approaches at different points in my life and my write-up follows my personal experience. Neither approach is inherently right or wrong, but it can be difficult to communicate your needs to someone who follows a different approach from you.

          • JenniferP said:

            I agree 100%. No way is right or wrong, no way is inherently better or worse.

        • monologue said:

          This can fall apart a bit when your dating pool is a really small percentage of the population. Not saying you’re doing anything wrong, but some of us opt-in folks do look to more active ways to increase our interactions with people that are moving in the same pool of potential dates when we’re in the mood maybe not be single for a while. In my work and friend life, I simply don’t meet enough dateable people organically.

    • Single Awkward Lady said:

      This hits the nail on the head so hard. I’m very much an opt-in but pretty much everyone else in my family is opt-out, so that’s extremely confusing for them. And they’re extremely skeptical that I actually am happy being single. I think I’ll use this explanation in the future. :)

    • JenniferP said:

      This is a cool way to frame it, thank you!

      As a fellow “opt-in” dater it makes so many things clear.

    • Dr Sarah said:

      Replying to the ‘opt-out vs. opt-in’ model: while it’s useful, it also don’t quite seem to cover it. It is possible to actively want to be in a relationship rather than single, and *still* not want to date just anybody for whom you can’t find a concrete reason why not. Sometimes (often), the reason is just ‘I’m just not feeling that way about that person’. Which isn’t very concrete, but is an excellent reason.

      • paddlepickle said:

        I’m glad you mentioned that. I feel like there’s often a lot of pressure, particularly in feminist circles, to be totally fine and good with being single and anything else is deemed a little bit pathetic. . .and I feel like the framing of opt-out dater here is heading a little bit that direction. I know plenty of people who actively want relationships but nobody who will date just anybody so long as they don’t have actively bad qualities. You can really desire a relationship and still have very high standards for entering one!

        • See, I view opt-in versus opt-out as being relevant before you know whether or not you just don’t feel that way about that person. I’d expect an opt-in person to stop dating somebody once they know they aren’t feeling it. But an opt-in person might date somebody they barely know to determine whether or not they feel it. Whereas, an opt-out person would prefer not to “date” until they are sure that they are feeling it. I’ve never “dated” somebody I was not already in a significant relationship with. I’ve never “dated” somebody I hadn’t already known for at least a couple of years. I don’t date people to get to know them or to determine whether or not there is potential. I don’t think there is anything wrong with doing so, but it’s wrong for me and makes me uncomfortable. I know someone for whom it seems very right and like a great idea. I support it for that person. But I would have zero interest in a date with someone I’ve never met, because I do not yet have strong feelings for the person, so why would I even possibly consider dating them yet? Whereas an opt-in person might view that as a sensible way to determine whether or not the feelings will be there.So, basically, some people use dating as a way to get to know people and test out relationship potential, which is fine (and rather traditional, I think). And some people prefer not to, and will only start something at all romantic after they have strong feelings for the person in question. But neither method is necessarily pickier or less picky. You’re just less likely to make a connection if you aren’t putting any effort into exploring lots of people to see if you do have a spark with any of them, which is why opt-out is more a method for people who don’t care how long they stay single. If you really want a relationship, meeting lots of people is a good idea, because you’ll likely need to reject a lot of people before you meet somebody who is right for you, and the more people you meet, I think the higher your odds are of finding somebody you do have a really good connection with.

          • paddlepickle said:

            That framing makes sense to me, though I think you got the opt-in vs. out backwards! What the OP said was ““someone who prefers “opt-in” is happy to be single unless they meet someone they really, really want to date. Someone who prefers “opt-out” wants to be in a relationship, and will date people based on their availability unless they have a concrete reason to not date that person.” That framing bothers me because like. . .wanting to be in a relationship doesn’t mean that you’ll date whoever so long as you can’t find a reason NOT to. That makes opt-out daters sound a little pathetic and desperate to be with anyone who doesn’t actually offend. I totally agree that it’s fine to be happy being single (honestly I’m a little jealous of people like that), and it makes total sense that some people have no interest in putting themselves out there while others actively look. Both are valid approaches, I just didn’t feel that from the way some people here are discussing it.

          • I apparently can’t reply to paddlepickle, but I probably did get the terms backwards. I do that sort of thing reasonably often (although I do try not to). And mix up clockwise and counterclockwise (always fun when trying to adjust temperature in a shower). So, odds are good, you need to flip my labels.

        • PintsizeBro said:

          I don’t mean to imply that anyone who’s actively seeking a relationship is wrong and should be happy to be single, or has low standards. The model I proposed is grossly oversimplified; I certainly don’t expect to be able to explain even a single aspect of human behavior in just two sentences! I think part of the problem here is that “I just don’t want to date that person” isn’t generally accepted as a reason to not date someone, especially when you’re actively seeking a relationship. Really, “I don’t want to date that person” is the only reason to not date someone. Trying to get more specific will likely lead to hurt feelings, and I’m hard put to imagine a scenario where it would be useful beyond something that can and should be fixed, like racism (and even then, a date with you is not a reward for the other person getting their shit sorted).

          I’ve actively sought out relationships, and all other things being equal if I’m actively looking I’m more likely to say yes to a first date. I wouldn’t say I’m any more likely to say yes to a second date, though.

  12. Caitlin said:

    Oh man this brought up memories of a time in high school when I thought I might like a dude and got the chance to spend a bunch of time with him on a school trip. But when we got home and he asked me on a date, I had already changed my mind about liking him. All the guilts about turning that date down! I felt like I owed him a real date after cuddling up to him on the bus.

    • thathat said:

      Oh shoot, I totally did that too, but in college! Where I was even more touch-starved. So there was couch-cuddling after the swing dance meet we’d been at (in a coffee shop, with other swing folks around), but by the end of the night, I knew he was just so dull and negative that I was good not hanging out with him again. But I felt like such a lousy person because from his perspective, it probably looked like I was having a good time (and not that I was sleepy and liked cuddles and both he and the couch were comfy, and also hey, being around friends playing apples to apples is always a good time).

    • I’ve been there, too, though I didn’t turn him down. A cute guy who I’d interacted with in a retail setting (and who’d knocked something like $100 off the cost of my order, which I felt a little weird about, but didn’t complain, because broke) called me at work. He me out by telling me what kinds of pharmaceuticals he could score, and also telling me that the quiet and proper ones [i.e., me] were always really naughty in bed, which I felt pretty icky about.

      Based on our previous conversation, I’d have been quite happy for a date. What I wanted to say in response to the phone call, though, was, “I think we’re into different things and shouldn’t go out. But thank you for inviting me.” Instead, because I felt I owed him after that $100 discount, I said, “Where should I meet you?,” which I regret. When I did start declaring boundaries later, he treated them as negotiable. One of the shittiest nights of my life.

      Saying “no” when you’re not feeling it is a good thing.

  13. Anisoptera said:

    Hi LW!

    I think in some ways the the whole answer is in the title – “no, but thanks” is all you need. Repeat as required. Maybe drop the thanks if someone is too insistent. But there it is, and also all its paraphrased friends “It’s kind of you to offer, but I’m not interested”, “I’m not looking right now” etc etc.

    It’s a really simple but not easy thing to do when you’ve been trained to think that saying “no” is impossibly, unthinkably rude. You said you were anxious when he friended you on social media – I get that! Because if rejection is impossibly rude, but also you don’t want to be social media friends, you’re trapped! I understand because until recenlty I felt exactly the same way. But here’s the thing. Don’t friend him. If you’ve already friended him, unfriend him. Done. It’s not impossibly rude. It’s OK to do that.

    Also if he invites you out again directly, or if your relatives try to get you to go out on a double date again, or set you up on a solo date again – say “no, but thanks”. Just say it. I mean, rephrase it if you like, but keep it simple enough that it still includes a direct no, and it doesn’t get lost in all the indirect rebuttal. Consider not rephrasing it, because simple and direct is optimal here. It may feel really really weird to say this, really shocking and upsetting and difficult. But it gets much easier with practice. The Captain Awkward archives are full of really great posts on the topic of saying no, and how you are actually allowed to do it – they’ve really helped me to work out how to do it myself, and it is like a magic cheat code to things that used to be impossibly difficult.

    I mean look at it like this – if it’s impossibly rude to say no to someone, then what’s the solution? You just do what they want forever? Or more likely, you hide as much as possible from having to interact with them, you avoid them, you avoid anyone who has anything to do with them, you avoid whole social circles and parties and outings just to avoid having to say no. Obviously dating someone forever just to avoid saying no is not a realistic option (…really, no, don’t do it even a little bit) but saying no, up front, simply, politely, kindly and with a minimum of fuss is absolutely an option. The more you do it, the easier it gets. People don’t actually decide you’re a horrible person for doing this, or at least people who are worth your time don’t, and anyone who does have a go at you for rejecting them is just going to show you that you did the right thing.

  14. Braver said:

    OP, as someone who was happily single for a long time (an opt-in dater, as someone else awesomely suggested), you have to guard your happily single status with your life. Because there are people who simply cannot fathom the idea that there are people who consciously choose to be single or who choose to be very selective in who they date.

    The Captain’s suggested script is spot on. Just keep repeating that you are happily single like a broken record. You do not have to explain why. And you do not have to keep accepting these “just meet him and see what happens” set ups.

    AS for this guy, ignore the social media request. If he contacts you again, just tell him, “I didn’t feel any chemistry” but say it in a friendly up beat tone so he doesn’t think you’re secretly hiding a more awful reason. If he protests by implying that your Family said differently, shift it back to them by saying, “Gosh I’m sorry that Whoever lead you to believe something different. I’m sorry, but I’m not interested in taking this any further”. It’s FAMILY’S fault for leading the guy on (assuming they do), not yours.

  15. Dr Sarah said:

    Something that just occurred to me and that I don’t think has come up yet: While the Captain’s script is perfect for dealing with the situation if this guy does want to take things further, it’s also perfectly possible that he doesn’t want anything of the sort. For all we know, he’s currently racking *his* brain trying to figure out how to tactfully let the LW know that although zie’s a nice person zie isn’t the particular nice person that he wants in his life. This doesn’t change a thing about the advice the Captain gave, but is a perspective it may be helpful to consider, simply because it’s easy to get so caught up in the “Must not hurt person’s feelings!” ‘rule’ that we sometimes forget that maybe what the other person wants isn’t even what we were assuming they want.

    • Myrin said:

      I had that thought as well.

      LW doesn’t say anything about Acquaintance other than “I’m not sure if that’s how it came across to the Acquaintance” and “Acquaintance really seemed to think it was a Real First Date(tm)” which isn’t the same as definitely knowing – e.g. because he told you so.

      Now I’m guessing Acquaintance probably said/did something LW doesn’t mention for her to have reached the conclusion that he’s more interested than she is, but I think it’s never bad to keep in mind that things don’t necessarily have to be the way they seem (I’ve been in situations where I was steadily getting worked up over something and panicking about talking to someone again because I had An Impression and it turned out the other person had totally forgotten about the whole thing already and didn’t think much of it at all).

      Regardless, the Captain’s advice stands and I think you can’t do anything wrong by following it.

    • MK said:

      Very true. I have known people to become entangled in a social interaction neither party wants because both are too wary of appearing rude.

      With this guy, It’s even possible that the social media thing is his version of a soft no. Social media can be a great way to keep people you are not interested in knowing better at a distance, without ignoring them competely and seeming rude. If this person was really interested in dating the OP, the natural thing to do would be to contact her and try to arrange another meeting or at least set up a direct line of communication. If all he’s done is add the OP on social media, without making any other contact for, say, a few weeks, it’s possible that he isn’t that interested (or at all interested), but felt it would be too rude to just ignore the OP and their meeting. Or, he might have done it in an effort to gauge the OP’s reaction to him; if the OP has ignored him, maybe he already got the message.

    • monologue said:

      I think this is why the Captain’s mentioned not to bother to say no thank you to acquaintance unless they contact the LW about another interaction/date/whatever. If I was the acquaintance and wasn’t interested and didn’t contact the LW any further and then I got a “Hi, no more dates pls” text, I would just think, “Hmm, that was a little presumptuous, I’m actually not interested either.”

  16. Single Awkward Lady said:

    OMGOMGOMG Captain Awkward answered my question! Squee!!

    First of all, it was framed as a date from the beginning, but when I got squirmy, it became the “try it and see what happens.” So, I didn’t get tricked, but it seemed like it was supposed to be more casual than it ended up being.

    I did add him on social media, but no messages yet. I’m wondering if the “he wasn’t quite feeling it either” hypothesis has some merit. I suppose he may be trying to figure out how to let me down easy too.

    My Family Member did go on the offense when I said I wasn’t interested. It seems he’s the Mary Poppins of boyfriends: Practically Perfect In Every Way. I just kept repeating I wasn’t interested, and hopefully that’s the end of it.

    Thanks for all the advice, everyone! :) I really appreciate it.

    • Rowan said:

      He might be wonderful in theory but if he doesn’t do it for you then he just doesn’t. There’s all these pheromones and instincts and mystery things which defy logic – otherwise everyone would find Happily Ever After with their first 100% match on OKC and nobody would be on a dating site for more than a month. I had a friend in Uni who, on paper, was the perfect guy for me. If we’d felt the spark, we’d have been married 15 years ago but there was zero chemistry between us. Absolutely nothing. We even tried kissing at New Year once, in the hope that we’d find something but nada. You can’t make something out of thin air.

      Think of it as dating practice for when/if you meet your zing.

    • Good, I’m glad.

      Isn’t it a wonderful feeling when your letter gets answered! And now I have “A Spoonful of Sugar” in my head.

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