You haven't had a define the relationship (DTR) talk, you've just been on a few dates, or maybe you've only been asked out online, but it's clear you're no longer interested. So how do you handle breaking it off before you're even official?
B) Slowly fade away and hope they get the hint
C) Act like a jerk to make them dump you
D) Let them know you're no longer interested
There’s so many nuances to dating and entering into a relationship these days, that calling things quits before it ever really takes off can be a confusing situation.
To make it easier, one rule I give my single clients is that if someone expresses interest in meeting up with you, but your feelings are not reciprocated, you owe them a let down response. Period. It's black and white.
This holds true for online dating if you’ve been messaging/texting with someone and they ask you out, but you decide you're not feeling it; if you’ve gone on just one date and in your mind it’s a one and done, but they follow up for a second date; if you’ve been out multiple times and are on the cusp of a DTR talk, but you’ve decided it doesn't have long-term potential.
The worst way to break it off with a casual partner is to ghost. Ghosting is damaging to someone’s self-esteem and wastes emotional energy that could be better off invested back in the dating market. Yes, it may be uncomfortable or awkward to disappoint someone, but if you're emotionally mature enough to be dating, you should have enough emotional maturity to breakup.
The best approach is to offer a simple, straightforward response.
Here are three common breakup situations and how to handle them if you're not officially dating:
If you’re only messaging/texting on a dating site and decide he/she is not worth a first date, say, “It’s been fun chatting with you, but I don’t think we’re a match. Best of luck on here!”
If you’ve gone on a couple dates, it’s fine to send a text stating you appreciate getting to know him/her and thanking him/her for the date, then say, “I just don’t feel a romantic connection.”
If you’ve been out more than five times, at this point you’ve likely developed emotional intimacy and feel a sense of connection, so a phone call or in-person conversation is warranted where you can address the lack of spark.
At this point your partner may be wondering why you're calling it quits, so be prepared for a discussion in which you can offer real feedback. If your partner begs for a second chance and you’re on the fence, it’s important to discuss your concerns as to why you don’t see a future together, and see how they address these issues. Some of your concerns may be firm deal breakers, such as mismatched core values, in which case you should never compromise, where as others issues might be fixable. This open communication may be just what you need to get the relationship back on track, or to give you peace of mind that you made the right decision to end it.
At the end of the day, if you can't be honest and communicative with someone casual, how are you going to talk about the challenging things with someone you love?
For more tips on breaking it off, read 10 Ways To Turn Down A Second Date