Reader question #49: How do you say “not interested” to dating site messagers?

Hello again Captain,

After your most excellent response to my last question, thought I’d ask you something slightly easier this time!

It concerns on-line dating etiquette. I posted an ad in a local singles group saying that if people were interested then they should message me. It’s getting replies, which is awesome, but I specified an age range for a reason, and now there’s a reply from a guy is is well outside that range, in fact being older than my Dad, which ‘ewww!’.

It seems impolite to ignore messages from people who aren’t obviously creeps because they took the effort to write but if they are outside what I asked for then yay or nay?
If it would be down-right rude to ignore them then how do I phrase my rebuttal? Keep it short and sweet, yes, but I come across as horribly blunt sometimes. 


I want to throw a page out to SexyTypewriter, because I think she’s probably put a lot of thought into this question, but here are my personal guidelines for handling online dating responses.  It’s possible I was doing it wrong, so commenters – jump on in.

I think you’re not obligated to write back to anyone who messages you. This is helpful in sorting out the Many Boring Not-For-You Dudes Who Just Write “Hi, what’s up?” or some equivalent, and it is also helpful in dealing with people who seem way needy or off in some way.  So often, no response is the best response.  Why would you engage with someone just to say “Hey, no thanks?”

But then, when someone really takes time to craft something in response, like, you can see they’ve read your profile carefully and they are really trying to start a conversation about something, and you can tell they are kind (but not for you), I think it is worth it to say “Thanks for your great message.  I don’t see us hitting it off, but I appreciated your thoughtful reply and I wish you luck.”   If they get mad like “WHY DID YOU WRITE BACK THEN, YOU BIG MEANPANTS YOU ARE LIKE ALL BITCHEZ?” and stomp about, well, at least you tried to make the world a better place.  It can be hard sending messages into the void, and mostly when I’ve gone that route the response is “Cheers, good luck to you as well!”

As for your grizzled suitor, listen….that guy probably writes to everyone who posts an ad, and his dating philosophy is probably something like “What the hell?  You never know!”  He would not be the first Old Dog to go sniffing after Young Ass.  I don’t think you need to lecture him or punish him for not respecting the parameters of your ad.  Just don’t write back.

Except….for additional humor value, your question prompted me to log in to my long-neglected dating profile, and there was a message waiting for me from someone who definitely falls outside my own age parameters.  Actually, let me say that he fell out side all of my parameters. Here you go:

Hi Captain,
May I come aboard? You are suspected of harboring an unidentified person of interest. I think she needs to be inspected. Keep your hands up while I frisk you for suspicious items beneath your clothes! LOL

Let me be the first to say I don’t understand adding LOL to the end of your sentences.  It’s like getting a telegram from a crazy person with LOL in place of STOP.  I think it’s designed to communicate that the preceding sentence is a joke, but if so, maybe you just tell the joke and I’ll tell you if it’s funny?

Second, having the word “Master” in your username…I’ll go with…evocative?  And suggesting an invasive warrantless search LOL is your way of breaking the ice LOL seems very presumptuous LOL?

Third, I did feel compelled to reply with one word.  “Gross.”

Did I make the world a better place?  Probably not.  Should I have been kinder or not replied at all instead of taking an easy swipe at someone who was just being genuine about expressing his desires?  Probably.  Did I violate my own guidelines in the middle of writing a post about those guidelines?  Yes. Do I have a point?  Eh…online dating is all about the case-by-case, like the time I said “No suburban boys” and then ended up taking a bus to Park Ridge, IL 3x/week for a year.  Trust your instincts about who is a good fit for you and who interests you and ignore the rest.

8 thoughts on “Reader question #49: How do you say “not interested” to dating site messagers?

  1. Re: serious jerkassness, if you ever feel alone in having to deal with shitty messages, check out this tumblr: The messages on there are completely, hilariously awful and whenever I visit that site it gives me that wonderful “swapping dating horror stories” feeling and a little more strength to soldier on through!

  2. SOS SOS CQD CQD Titanic LOL We are sinking fast LOL Passengers are being put into boats LOL Titanic LOL

    1. I try not to play favorites with commenters, but yeah, you’re my favorite.

  3. Sidenote: my older brother has worked in IT for a million years, but is very much Not An Internet Person. So much so that a few years ago he mentioned an e-mail he’d received from a professional contact that she’d closed with “LOL,” which he thought stood for “lots of love,” so he was understandably a tad confused. My attempt to disabuse him of that notion was met with, “…but it’s not like either of us said anything particularly funny in that exchange.” Touche, mon frere. Touche.

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