1. Be Honest
The old adage that’s stood the test of time rings true here: Honesty is always the best policy, especially when you know in every fiber of your being that you’re just not that into them and that a second date will just delay the inevitable. And even though it can feel awkward to be so direct (especially if you’re a people-pleaser who has trouble saying ‘no’), a moment of discomfort will save the other person from an unrequited relationship (and save you from another date).
“Be honest and don’t over-promise,” urges Boodram. “You can still be polite without giving false hope it will happen again,” she reassures us.
And here’s another great tip from the relationship expert: If you met on a dating app, keep the conversation on there for the first date without exchanging numbers. “If you set this expectation, it will be clear that another date with you is not given and also, this makes it much easier to stop communication.” Post-date, you can simply message them in the app to thank them again for their time, wish them well in future and then unmatch.
Do say: “Thank you for dinner, it was nice to meet you.”
Don’t say: “I had so much fun. Maybe we could do it again some time?”
2. And Keep It Brief
Clear and concise is the name of the game when saying no to a second date. “Don't drag it out,” says Boodram. “If you just got home from a date and all the signs are there that you don’t want to proceed, try texting or calling them the moment it’s appropriate.”
Rambling is a nervous habit for many of us and can sometimes make you feel better about what you’re doing or even come across as apologetic. But going on and on is really not helpful—keep it nice and short. (Easier said than done, we know, but trust us on this one—calling it quits sooner rather than later will save everyone a whole lot of heartache.)
Do say: “I had a nice evening, too, but I’m going to say no to a second date.”
Don’t say: “Wow, that restaurant was great—I can’t believe how amazing that ice cream was! I also loved hearing all about your travels and your summer plans, I hope you have fun on your camping trip. But even though I had a nice evening (and will definitely be ordering three scoops next time!), I just don’t think that this is a good match. I hope you understand. I’m so sorry! I really did have a great time.”
3. Be Sensitive to Their Feelings
And at the end of the day, you don’t have to be an empath to recognize that we’re all human with complex emotions. Boodram’s biggest tip here is to be cognizant and acknowledge the other person’s feelings when you decide to say no to a second date. “Even though you've only been on one date with the person, and you don't owe them anything, I think we can also all agree that the culture of ghosting and making people feel disposable needs to go,” she says. “With this in mind, try to make space for a brief closure conversation where you can acknowledge the other person's feelings and answer any questions if they request it. After that thank them for their time and be clear that this is the end of your communication chain.”
Do say: “I really enjoyed getting to know you, but the chemistry that I’m looking for was not there on my end.”
Don’t say: “I’m just not that into you.”
Bottom line: Honesty, brevity and sensitivity are key to ending things politely yet firmly. You’ve got this—just remember to breathe through the anxiety and know that there are plenty of fish in the sea…even if you settle on the tuna roll solo-dolo.