I went on a date with Robert after meeting on OKCupid. He was a really nice guy so I stayed for dinner even though I knew within two seconds that I wasn’t attracted to him. Photos do fail. The night wore on, and although I’ve ended lesser dates with lesser men far faster, and have no qualms about doing so, I felt like I needed to be polite because he was nice. I would text him after the date to say what I couldn’t say to his face, I thought. Yet as we said goodbye at the bus stop, Robert did something altogether presumptuous: he leaned in for the kiss. In what can only be described as awkward, my mouth reflexively clamped shut and it was rendered a peck. I smiled and said goodbye, in awe at the fact that he didn’t appear to have gotten the hint. So I texted him later that night in response to a message he had already sent about a second date. I was kind, made it clear I’d had a great time, but that I simply hadn’t felt romantic chemistry. I’d sent far lesser texts to far lesser men and had it received far better than Robert received this particular message. He responded by not responding at all. I knew he was angry, so I left it at that. It wasn’t my fault he had ignored the cues I’d given all night and felt entitled to more of me.

Don’t be a people-pleaser, but don’t ghost either

It’s bad enough women are socialized to be people-pleasers but this is especially true when it comes to men. Society teaches us that masculinity is something to avoid wounding at all costs, yet it’s not very sturdy by my calculations. But although it may seem like a lot of trouble (and not the enjoyable kind) to tell a man outright that you’re not interested, and although the option of contributing to ghosting culture is always there, it’s much classier to be clear and respectful with the guy. To be clear, I’m talking specifically about men you’ve met in person…with whom you don’t want to be involved.

Caveat: if your gut is telling you to ghost and avoid a possibly violent confrontation, then by all means, ghost up and away. Your safety is always most important. But if you’re just worried about hurting his feelings, this one’s for you. Remember: you don’t owe anyone an explanation for being uninterested. This is simply about learning to own your feelings…and be a class act, of course. 

The beauty of texting 

While many decry texting for its relative lack of humanity, warmth, accountability, and warm, fuzzy, cuddlability, you can use the technology for good instead of evil by taking advantage of the remove texting affords us by jumping at the opportunity to feed someone an honesty muffin. You heard me. You may be surprised by how much people appreciate it, how nutritious it can be, and how much better you feel after.


For starters, get in touch with why you’re crafting this text to begin with. Because you want out? You want to be free of further contact and pressure for date #2 (or 3)? Because you want to show courtesy where its due? Or maybe it’s honesty that’s due? Because you don’t wanna ghost? Because you wanna tell someone off or put them in their place? Or because you wanna do future generations a great service and give feedback so the person will genuinely get a hint about how they might learn from the experience? All of the above? There are many reasons to text a person post first (or second) date to say what could not be said on said date. Whatever those reasons look like for you, here are 5 quick ‘n dirty guidelines for putting it out there: 

1. If there’s anything positive to say, open with that

Conjure compassion and kindness if he at all deserves it. Couch the meat of the message (that you won’t be hanging out again) between two pieces of nice, fluffy Wonder Bread. Don’t lie or anything, but if you thought he was worth respect, tell him you had a great time, that you wish him well, that you hope he finds what he’s looking for (other than you, of course). You got this. Use your learned people-pleasing powers to lend a crumb.

2. Be honest and clear 

This is one of those times when honesty really is the best policy. News flash: you can be polite without being dishonest. Be clear about how you feel, and what you do or don’t desire. Say what you mean. Don’t leave things open to interpretation. Never assume he’ll fill in the blanks. If you don’t want to see him again, say that. You’ll hurt him more by leaving him to wonder. Be as forward as you wish men would be with you. Don’t worry about being a bitch—not even for a second. 

3. Suggest being friends—if that’s of any interest

I don’t do this personally, because I’m a busy woman, and I have enough friends. If I make time for anything else, it’ll be for a good-lovin’ man. So only suggest it if that’s the particular vibe at play between you, but this route requires you to be aware and open and honest about your intentions—and his feelings. Whatever you do, do NOT enter into a friendship with a man who suggests it himself and is clearly using it to try his luck with you again. No, no, no.

4. Be prepared for the possibility that he’ll react badly—no matter how wise your message is 

Robert didn’t answer me, and I knew he was both mad and upset, but I’ve had others act like they’re owed a more in-depth explanation than I was willing to give, and others still actually get hostile on me. Again, have the wherewithal to know when someone is too sketchy to grace with a gentle let-down at all, but when you do allow a guy that courtesy, be aware that it’s always possible he may not return your courteousness. In such cases, never feed a drooling beast. Bowing out means no more texting after the initial message. 

5. Know that shedding this extra weight ultimately frees you up all the more to find the person you actually do want to be dating

I’m pretty sure that treating people well and showing them the respect you know you deserve goes a long way toward shaping you into the classy, sassy, bold and honest goddess of a woman you’re supposed to be. One deserving of all the pomp and chemistry she desires. 

Still need some inspiration?

Take these message-cores as prompts to writing, personalizing, and adding to your own: 

  • “I don’t see this becoming a serious relationship and that’s what I’m looking for right now.” 
  • “You’re wonderful, but I’m just not feeling the chemistry between us.” 
  • “I like and respect you but I have to be honest: I don’t think I’m the right fit.” 

Remember: everyone just wants love.