The Polite Way To Break Up?

Dear Jack & Jill: There's a lot of advice on your site for "breaking up" a relationship of some duration, what about simply not wanting to see someone after the first date or two, other than a generic "move on." What's the etiquette on this? In my case, I'm meeting women from online dating sites. After going through e-mail exchanges to make date arrangements and having only one or two meetings/dates, what should I do when I decide we're just not compatible? I don't want to leave them hanging, so should I tell them that I'm not interested in seeing them again? If so, by what method? Since everything was set-up within the online/e-mail world, is sending them a polite note that way acceptable? Many thanks for all your great advice!

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Jill: You have great instincts. Most men would prefer not to deal with explicitly calling off a (very) short-term romance, instead opting to do "the fade," where they simply never contact that woman again. Women find this behavior maddening ("It’s like he dropped off the face of the earth." And "Maybe he’s not a jerk; maybe he actually died?"). The truth is; it really doesn’t take much to put a cap on a would-be romance that’s not for you. If you like, following up a face-to-face meeting with a short thank-you e-mail that indicates that you enjoyed the meeting, but that you feel that you get more of a plutonic vibe from the connection, or that it simply wasn’t a romantic connection, is really all you need to do. It’s actually quite polite, and — although your words may sting for a second even if they didn’t like you — women will appreciate this.

Jack: Ahh, the world of online dating. The true meaning of what’s behind door number three. Fraught with promise and… yet, somehow terrifying at the same time.

So while you’re sampling at the sushi bar of e-dating, you occasionally need to put something back because, you realize you don’t like octopus or your eyes were bigger than your stomach or whatever. How do you handle that? You shoot straight, man. Tell her the truth and do it in person. Be kind and considerate but be direct and definite. There’s nothing cruel about saying, "I really enjoyed getting to know you but I’m just not feeling it". She’ll appreciate your honesty and the fact that you talked to her face to face. Of course, this works a lot better if you haven’t slept with her yet.



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