Hi Captain Awkward,
Thanks for writing awesome advice. Your blog has become a primary go-to for assessing awkward human interactions!
I’ve been trying to sort out how to handle an online dating situation. I went on a date with a guy a little over a week ago, and while he seemed nice enough at first, further evaluation has led me to believe that he’s a Nice Guy and I don’t have any desire to strike up any kind of friendship or romance with him. The problem is that prior to this assessment, I agreed to maybe having dinner again. He has since written me twice, stating that he really wants to see me again, and soon. I don’t want to “let him down easy” or be completely brutal – but am having a hard time finding the words to say, “Sorry, I was wrong. Let’s not be friends.” I guess one upside is that I’ll be leaving the state in six weeks, so I never intentioned for this to be a long term anything. The downside is that he mentioned the possibility of more job opportunities in the same state and city that I’ll be moving to, so my mind has already raced ahead to worst case stalking scenario. I know that once I let him down, I have no control over how he takes it. At the same time, I don’t want to be cruel or ambiguous about my intent to never see him again.
He’s probably harmless, but trust that bad feeling in your gut that made you sign yourself “Petrified” and think the word “stalking.”
Option 1: If he only has your dating site email and no other contact info, you can always just never write back and then move away. Is this the kind of thing where no further contact is good contact? This wouldn’t be my first recommendation, it is pretty rude, but if you genuinely feel that he will latch on to any further contact, it’s legitimate to protect your own safety.
Option 2: “Dear ___, I got both of your emails. I enjoyed meeting you the other night, but I’m afraid I must decline a second date. I’m so sorry, please take care. ____.”
A cool guy will just say something like “Bummer, I’m sorry to hear it, good luck with your move.” No harm done. An uncool guy will demand explanations so that he can shoot them down or reply with angry stuff. If you get an “Can I ask why?” reply from him, I recommend that you just not answer. Ditto for “But you said…” You don’t owe anyone a second date.
Keep it very short. Don’t explain why. Not his business. He will shoot down your reasons anyway.
Don’t make excuses like “I don’t have time/I’m too busy with the move” because that’s when stalkers kick into high gear by offering to help you with all your annoying stuff and making it harder for you to disengage.
I can hear Nice Guys reading this, rending their garments and wondering what this poor guy did wrong by wanting a second date. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. Neither were you. But the letter writer was, and the guy gave her a bad vibe and has already sent two emails asking for a second date presumably without getting a reply. She doesn’t have to have a reason for not wanting to go out again, beyond “I don’t want to go out again.” She should get the guy out of her life so she doesn’t spend the next six weeks pretending that she enjoys the company of this “new friend” while he gets further invested.