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How To Say No To A Second Date (And Still Make Everyone Feel Great)

Ok, friends. It's time for the story of my Most Awkward First Date Ever.

I strolled into my favorite neighborhood cafe, dressed to impress, feeling cool as a cucumber. I ordered a soy latte, found a seat, and waited for my date to arrive. We'd connected online and chatted a few times. It was our first face-to-face meeting ― that essential chemistry-checking conversation.

She arrived a few moments later … d-r-e-n-c-h-e-d with sweat. I could've wrung out her tank top and filled up an extra-large coffee cup. No kidding.

She’d mentioned on her dating profile that she was a marathon runner, so I asked, "Wow! Did you just go out for a run?"

"Nope," she said, plopping down across the table. Whereupon, she proceeded to talk at me (not to me) for 90 solid minutes ― at a speed that would rival an olde-timey auctioneer, or a horse-racing announcer hopped up on a gallon of green tea.

She was a perfectly nice human being ― albeit a bit nervous. As evidenced by the hummingbird-speed chatter and astonishing downpour of sweat. But chatter and moisture aside, I just wasn’t feeling the chemistry.

At the end of our date, she casually indicated that she'd like to see me again. I, ahem, didn't share her sentiments. That was the first time I remember saying "No, thanks" to a second date, right upfront. No white lies. No maybes. No “Let’s just be friends.”  

I don't remember exactly what I told her that day. It was probably just as awkward as our date had been! 

Happily, I've evolved a considerable amount since then ― both as a writer, a communication specialist, and as a human being. 

Over time, I’ve polished up a go-to script for saying, “No, thanks” to a second date ― while still making him (or her) feel totally great.

Here’s the lingo: 

Hey { name },

I had an excellent time meeting you, and I’m completely intrigued by your passion for {competitive skiing / collecting toy robots / perfecting the art of the grilled cheese sandwich / insert something they talked a lot about, here}.

Thanks for recommending that I check out { name of band / documentary / radio show / book / insert something they mentioned, here }. It's on my Official List of Cool Things To Do and Try as of … now. 

So … here's the ever-so-slightly awkward part where we analyze each other’s emails, line by line, and try to feel out if a "second date" is on the horizon.

I'll hop straight to it: I think you're terrific ― like coconut-ice-cream-with-salted-caramel-on-top-terrific ― but I'm not feeling the particular flavor of chemistry that I’m searching for, in a { girlfriend / boyfriend }. I hope we're on the same page. And if not, I hope you understand.

If our paths cross again, I’ll be expecting a full update on { your downhill skiing adventures / your ever-growing toy robot collection / that lifelong grilled cheese project }.

Be well,

{ your name here }

The big, golden key? 

If you’re saying, “No, thanks,” be exceptionally clear and extraordinarily kind. 

When it comes to the amount of compassion and love in the universe, you always want to be an Adder, not a Subtractor. 

Even when a second date isn’t ... gonna ... happen.

So: how do YOU say “no, thanks” to a second (or third, or fourth) meet-up? Any go-to tips? Thoughtful phrases? Or is it always a total cringefest? 


Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com


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