Sondra went on a date. Even before the date, she told me that she didn’t really want to go, but that she had agreed ‘out of politeness’. She could also tell during the date that, for many reasons, this wasn’t someone with whom she wanted to spend more time. It was a weeknight; she was tired and wanted to go home, but her date kept urging her to stay out later. Again, she wanted to be polite so, against her will, she stayed out longer. He then asked her out again and, not wanting to be rude, she agreed. He texted her the next day to check when she was free. Not actually wanting to see him again, she said she was busy. This is a true story, by the way. In fact, it might have happened to you. When I spell it out like this, it might seem like she is leading him on. The irony is that in her mind, she did all of these things, to avoid hurting his feelings; she had the misguided notion that this was the nicest way to spare him any feelings of rejection. So, do you think this worked?

In today’s post, you will learn how to let someone down gently. This is such an important subject that I can’t believe that I have never addressed it before. So, thanks to Sondra (not her real name) for bringing it to my attention. By implementing the actions in today’s post, you can help create a healthy dating arena where people can be happy and confident, even when things don’t work out with individuals and learn how to let someone down kindly. I would ask you to please pass this on to any single friends, in order to create a healthy dating atmosphere, where people can be their best selves.

Chances are, you will not form a major relationship, with most people you meet (especially if you meet them randomly, like online dating or dating apps.) This is just a logical part of the dating process and one that we often ignore. If you keep this in mind, it means that you don’t have to take things personally when most of your dates, for whatever reasons, don’t turn into magical fairy tales.

This is why it’s imperative that there is a good way to let people know that you don’t think it’s a  match, if they haven’t yet figured out that it’s not going to be a love connection. Stalling, hiding, or trying to sugar coat things does not work. So, then how do you do it?

Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Am I being true to myself? This is the most important thing to consider. It’s not, ‘I don’t want to be mean’ or ‘Perhaps I should give it another try’. Instead, listen to your gut instinct and don’t try and smother it with ‘logic’. The more you stifle it, the more you are disconnected from your best behaviour. The more you connect with your true self, the easier it becomes to first understand, and then act upon, what is best for you.
  2. Am I being kind? Like many people, Sondra had a misguided notion about what being kind meant. In her mind, being kind meant not rejecting him, thereby giving him false hope. Kindness is about first being kind to yourself and making your, self-connected, decision. And then it’s about being straightforward and genuine with the other person
  3. Am I communicating clearly? Finally, you must make sure that you are letting this person know your thoughts in a way that they can clearly understand. We often get trapped here. In trying to sugar coat things, with the mistaken notion that we are making the rejection easier for the other person, the message often becomes ambiguous and too subtle. This only results in confusion and not the message you were intending to send out.

You might notice some similarities between this post, and a previous post on graceful exits. Most of the problems stem from your misguided notions about what being ‘polite’ or ‘nice’ means. In fact, the goal is to be kind. This means being clear to the other person that you are not interested.

After giving Sondra this same advice, this was part of her response:

‘‘I was asking some girlfriends about what to do in this situation. One advised to be aloof, another said not to respond again, another said tell him I met up with my ex in the week and I think it’s back on with him, so it wouldn’t be appropriate to meet. It’s funny how none of those responses are about being honest. I wonder why some of us women feel we can’t be honest.”

Besides the different advice given by her friends, all unhelpful (keep a look out for an upcoming post about what do with friends’ advice) her question about what can’t women be honest is interesting. She is referring to being honest with guys, but this isn’t about being honest with your preferred gender. It’s about being honest with yourself, and acting on what you know to be the right thing to do. The question should really read, ‘I wonder why some of us women feel we can’t be honest (with ourselves)?’. Obviously, dear male reader, this isn’t just ‘women’ who need to be honest with themselves, it relates to everyone.

Discuss.