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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How to Tell Someone, "No, Thanks."

I was recently asked to contribute to an expert panel on a topic that plagues many daters, both in the online world and off...

“How do I politely but firmly tell someone I’m just not interested?”

Here was my answer, and certainly one that I tell all my clients:

As someone who made almost every mistake in online dating, I learned this one the hard way.  But once burned, I quickly discovered a couple of practical and effective techniques for “letting someone down easy” in both the online and analog dating world.

When I began dating online, I felt compelled to respond to every one who reached out to me, irrespective of whether or not they met my basic requirements.  It’s hard to shake the need to be polite, even in an online world.  I was raised in the South.  My mother sent me to charm school and made sure I wrote handwritten Thank You notes on personalized stationery.  In high school, I wore sweaters tossed casually over my shoulders.  How could I not respond?

Not wanting to turn someone down outright, I devised what I thought was a clever way of saying “no thanks” without making them feel bad.  The site I was using allowed me to respond to an email using an automated system.  Just click a few boxes and you’ll say “No, thanks” and give the reason that a) they live too far away b) they aren’t physically attractive c) they don’t meet my educational requirements or d) I’ve met someone else.   (I can’t remember the exact categories now…but it was something like that)

I felt that outside of the distance, the clickable boxes seemed too cruel.  So I decided to tell a little white lie…that I’d met someone else.  See?  No one could be offended by that, right?  *sigh*  Wrong.

The last “gentleman” to receive the benefit of my gentle response wrote me an accusatory email a few days later:  “Your lying.  I see you online.  You’ve been active within the last 24 hours, so obviously you aren’t seeing someone else and your still looking.  Your just blowing me off.”

I quickly understood that he wasn’t online because he worked late hours and didn’t have the opportunity to make it to happy hour…he had anger issues.  But we had nothing in common.  His profile didn’t spark my interest at all.

I could have written him back saying:  “Why on earth, after reading my profile, would you think that we’re compatible?  Oh, and by the way, I think the word you were looking for and misspelled several times in your response was the contraction ‘you’re,” not ‘your.””

But I didn’t.  I’d been in therapy long enough to know not to engage irrational people in rational conversation.  So I ignored the e mail, reported him to the site and blocked him from contacting me further.

And I learned, if you are contacted by someone who you do not find interesting, don’t respond.  Let him believe his e mail went into cyberspace, got lost in your inbox or that you were abducted by aliens.  Odds are, he was probably employing the spaghetti technique (you know, throw a handful of spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks) and doesn’t even remember that he wrote you.

The same goes for winks.  Not interested?  Ignore.  Because, let’s be honest, it doesn’t take much courage to send a wink.

If, however, he sends a lovely, thoughtful email that was clearly written with you in mind (he uses specifics from your profile, proving that he read it and is interested in more than just your pictures), you should write back.  Simply thank him for his kind words, tell him that you don’t think you are a match and wish him luck in his search.

Now, here’s how this translates to live interaction…

If you’ve met someone and determined that he’s just not for you, it’s fairly simple.  If you’ve been on 1-3 dates, write him an email (you’re under no obligation to call this early in your relationship…if you’ve been on a few more dates, give him a call and say the same thing as the email, choosing whichever option best applies):  “Thank you so much for dinner last night/it was good meeting you yesterday.  I just don’t think the chemistry/connection is there to take our new friendship to the next level.  I wish you the best of luck in your search.”

That’s it.  Simple.  Sweet.  Kind-hearted.  The Southern girl in me approves.  And the "matches" clearly get the message.

XO, The Match Maven

Monday, January 30, 2012

More Than Crumbs...How To Find "The One"

A therapist friend of mine was listening to another friend’s relationship woes.  She wisely told him, “You deserve more than crumbs.”  And she was absolutely right.  It is human to have needs and wants and you are entitled to have the symbiotic relationship you dreamed of.  You deserve more than crumbs, however delicious they may seem.  You deserve the whole babka.  (Side note: Those of you who haven’t had the joy of trying this delicious sweet bread should call Zabar’s immediately!)

There is a big difference between making allowances for your partner in a relationship and giving up what you need.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Setting Yourself Up For Dating Success

Life comes at you fast!  If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be married, moving to the Upper East Side and considering babies…I’d tell you you were nuts.  Well…at least the UES/baby thing.  Because of online dating, I was planning a wedding this time last year.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Smart Things Your Mother Said...About Online Dating?

Whew! It’s been a little while since my last post and I’m happy to say that I can now sit upright, stand and walk without pain. This makes thinking about blog topics MUCH easier! I used to hear my mother say, “If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.” Guess what? She’s right. I think today’s blog is dedicated to the little pearls of wisdom my mother said while I was growing up, that I’m only now beginning to understand.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Note of Gratitude

I’m perfecting the art of writing flat on my back, my laptop resting on my knees. I tripped up the stairs (UP the stairs? Really?!) and now a few trips to the doctor and an MRI later, I can stand only as tall as a little, old lady. Really. My back is in spasm and I cannot stretch myself upright. Walking, in addition to making every muscle in my back ache, is downright embarrassing. One of my girlfriends posted the picture of Edna from the "Incredibles" on my facebook page…and she wasn’t wrong. A cane, in fact, is looking like a smart idea.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Don't Just Type, Do Something!

I communicated with a man who had the sharpest sense of humor I’d ever encountered online. For a week, we emailed several times a day, marveling at all we had in common, including the things that made us laugh. We quoted movies to each other and analyzed why Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation was waaaaay cooler than lame-ol’ Captain Kirk. It was undeniable. We had “intellectual” chemistry. (Please. If you can call Star Trek intellectual!)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Never Underestimate The Power of An Online Dating Headline

While searching for the love of my life online, I was especially proud of my arguably geeky headline: “Grammar Snob Seeks A Scrabble Opponent Who’s Got Game.” I thought I’d struck a nice balance and figured I was throwing these guys a softball—you know, an obvious topic they could bring up in the first email. Within two seconds of seeing my picture they knew that I was either a) cleverish b) snobbish or c) played Scrabble.