My favorite rejection is the mutual kind: where two individuals meet and both can tell that there’s just no chemistry or common ground. At the end of the date, there’s a slightly awkward hug and someone says, “It was really great meeting you, I’ll talk to you soon,” but both parties know there will be no further communication. That’s the easy kind – the peaceful kind. Unfortunately, it rarely works this way, and someone has to do the dirty work of letting the other person know there’s just no interest.
The easiest way for the uninterested party to go about doing this is to just ignore all calls, emails, and texts from the other person and passively hope he/she gets the not-so-subtle hint. But let’s face it – as effortless as this route is, not only is it the more cowardly path, but the person being rejected oftentimes doesn’t understand. So how do we gracefully reject someone?
The Rejection Text
In this world of technology, it seems like even the phone is an enemy when it comes to rejection. Even if you choose not to answer the phone you can still receive rejection texts. Sassy Pants received this text message after a first date she thought went incredibly well:
“I had a good time but felt more of a friendship type chemistry.”
This is not something a girl wants to hear after what she thought was a successful evening. While this guy doesn’t get any points for tact, he definitely gets credit for being direct and straightforward.
Mugsy also shared a rejection text with me. She received this one after a first date where he chose to meet up with her in a sports bar to “watch the game”. Contrary to assumptions about how it would go based on the venue, she actually enjoyed talking to him. This was his text to her the following day:
“It was a fine time. Thanks for the company.”
What exactly does that mean? Mugsy assumed it meant he wasn’t that interested and wrote him off, but it would have been a bit more courteous if he could have been more clear about it.
I also have received rejection texts. My favorite came from a man I’d been seeing once or twice per week for a little longer than a month. I enjoyed his company, and though I definitely did not consider our dating to be “serious”, I figured there would be no harm in inviting him to one of my dinner parties. About two hours before the party started while I was out grocery shopping, I received this text message from him:
“Help! I don’t know what to do. I really like you but I don’t feel like I can have a relationship with you right now. I thought I was ready to start dating, but I can’t stop thinking about my ex. I don’t feel like I’m ready for a girlfriend. I feel like if I show up at your house for your party I’ll be leading you on.”
In this scenario, I was less annoyed by the rejection and more irritated by the inconvenience of having to adjust things last minute for a party I’d been planning all week. Really, couldn’t he have had an emotional breakdown one day earlier? I was also rather alarmed by his use of words like “relationship” and “girlfriend”, when in my mind we were definitely just “dating”.
I do salute two of these men for having the balls to send a clear message about no longer being interested – so many take the easier path – but I am not impressed with text messages as a tool for rejection. Cell phones go with you everywhere, essentially meaning you are NEVER safe from rejection. I guarantee the person sending the message doesn’t think about where you are, what you’re doing, or if rejection is convenient at that particular moment. I was in the supermarket when I received the above message. What if I had been at work when I received it? What if I had been really hurt and upset by his rejection and in a place where it could have negatively affected other aspects of my life?
The Rejection Email
My preference for rejection is email. First of all, more thought tends to go into an email than a quick text message. Secondly, email (especially eHarmony email) is something you can check when you’re sitting down in the privacy and comfort of your own home. So what makes an adequate rejection email? Sassy Pants, who we’ve already established is infinitely kinder than myself, gave me an example of a rejection email she sent:
“I really enjoy you and find it easy to connect with you but am increasingly doubtful that we are a good romantic match. You are a stellar human and I’m really impressed with all the things you’ve done and tried in your life. It was funny to me that you were concerned about sharing some of your adventures and I was just more and more impressed with you. I think though that there is probably someone out there for you that is a better match than me…someone who will share your passion for exercise and sweets!
Sigh. Not sure how to close this… It seems lame and almost unkind to say let’s be friends so I’m not going to do that. I do sincerely think you’re an amazing man and I wish you well.”
I think this is a phenomenal rejection email. Sassy Pants made sure he knew she thought very highly of him, respected him, and found him incredibly interesting, while making it clear that though she liked him, it wasn’t a good romantic match. I don’t think I’ve been nearly so kind in my rejection emails. Below is an example of one I sent to someone after we had an absolutely horrible date. I was certain he’d never reach out to me again, but when he emailed me for another date, this is how I responded:
“Thanks for driving all the way up to my neck of the woods. It was really great meeting you, but I don’t think a romantic relationship will be possible for us. Best of luck to you!”
Granted, this is not nearly as sweet and kind as the letter Sassy Pants sent, but it was a terrible date… Okay…I admit it. I probably could have been more tactful.
The best rejection email I ever received came from a guy I had been emailing with nearly every day for two weeks. We had a lot of chemistry while emailing and I was excited to meet him. We met for coffee and had a lot to talk about – so much so that a quick cup of coffee turned into nearly three hours of caffeinated conversation. I really liked him and wanted to see him again, so I sent him an email to make another date. This is what I received back from him:
“I had a really great time chatting with you as well. You are an extremely cool and interesting woman, as well as a great catch! I find myself not feeling that a romantic relationship is in the cards for us, but if you are interested in staying in touch anyway, I would love to (if not, that’s OK too), because you rock. Let me know your thoughts, if any!”
This was so masterfully written that it *almost* took the sting out of being rejected by someone I really liked. Somehow, he managed to make me feel good about myself while turning me down – talk about genius! I responded with how impressed I was by his email and that I plan to use it as a template for future rejections.
I have met so many fun and fascinating people through edating, but so far none of them have been the right fit for me – or I haven’t been the right fit for them. Rejection isn’t an easy thing – no one likes dishing it because no one likes receiving it – but in the world of edating (and dating, in general), it’s entirely unavoidable. I’ve found that though being rejected is unpleasant, I’d much rather know, under no uncertain terms, he’s not interested. Someone who takes the time to craft a thoughtful rejection maintains my respect.
I try to hold myself to the same standards, but I often think that doing the rejecting is more difficult than being rejected. Sometimes they respond with nothing – which is fine. Sometimes they write back wishing me luck, as well – and that’s always nice. Sometimes they respond very rudely – and that only helps justify my decision. The ones who make it painful are the men who take the rejection all too personally, are hurt by it, and want to talk through their feelings about it – and maybe even try to convince me to change my mind. I have no idea how to explain to them that rejection is actually a kindness that allows both parties to go off in search of a better fit.
So, I pose these questions to you, dear reader. How do you prefer to give/receive rejection? Do you have any examples of rejections you’d like to share? Again, feel free to comment under an alias or email anything you’d like me to post to firstname.lastname@example.org.