Hey! I’m Niki Davis, a consent and sexuality educator and Bushwick Daily’s bedroom coach. Every other Humpday, I’ll answer your sex and relationship questions.
Q: 24-year-old Bushwick lady here. I’ve recently had a slew of dates that didn’t go well, how do I best reject people who I’m not interested in?
A: Thank you for writing in, this is a very common predicament. I believe in utilitarianism, which is a philosophical doctrine asserting that when confronted with life’s difficult decisions, you should make the choice that brings the most happiness (and therefore the least pain) to the most people. I think that this is very relevant when discussing the complex issue of rejection.
finding the balance
Let’s be real, there’s no great way of telling someone you aren’t interested in them, but there certainly are better or worse ways. The decision regarding the best rejection move is often context dependent.I went on a date last night with someone who was interesting, intelligent, attractive and talked about himself the WHOLE time. So much, that when I tried to cut in and tell him that he was only talking about himself he interrupted me and kept jabbering. He reached out this morning saying that he enjoyed our time together and would like to hang out again. Reflecting back on our date, I have a few of options regarding what to do:
1. I could tell him that I’m not interested in going out with him again because he wouldn’t shut the fuck up.
2. I could pretend that I am busy for the foreseeable future.
3. I could ghost him.
Before I tell you what I decided to do in this situation, let’s go over my advice.
1. Think about the pros and cons of being honest with the person. If the turnoff is a personality flaw that you think may infiltrate other relationships, and you feel comfortable, perhaps let them know. However, if it’s more related to attraction (or lack thereof), being completely honest will just hurt them.
2. Don’t make excuses regarding why you can’t see a person again, trust me, it often doesn’t work out. For example, if you tell someone that you are really busy with finals, they will likely hit you up post-finals to see what’s going on. If you falsely tell someone you aren’t looking to date, you may very well run into this person at a future point while you are on a date. If you tell someone you are moving out of the country tomorrow, you may run into them at your local coffee shop later that week.
3. Only suggest friendship if that is something that you are genuinely interested in. I’ve had some great friendships come out of failed dates, however, I have also had strange situations where I am hanging out with somebody purely because I feel bad that I don’t want to date them.
4. It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing decision. There are times when you enjoy the friendship, or enjoy the sex, but don’t want to date someone. That is completely fine as long as you communicate it clearly to the person.
My go-to is saying is, “I really enjoyed meeting in person, but I didn’t feel a spark.”
5. You don’t have to know how you feel about someone after the first date—don’t feel pressured to decide right away. I’ve never experienced this “love at first sight” thing. In fact, there have been a couple of people that I initially did not jive with at all, but as we got comfortable and got to know each other, we fostered a real connection. I suggest going on three dates with two people and actually giving them a chance, instead of six first dates.
6. Sometimes rejection isn’t necessary. I once I had a date with this surfer dude (with real nice hair), and there was no spark between us. After one drink we both pretended we had places to go and went on with our lives. Then after no communication for over a week he messaged me something like, “I’m sorry, but I’m not into you.” Even though I also wasn’t into him, getting that message put me in a really bad mood and really wasn’t necessary.
7. Be kind. My go-to is saying is, “I really enjoyed meeting in person, but I didn’t feel a spark.” This honest rejection has received mostly positive responses. Since I shifted to this response, I waste less time hearing from people, who I actually am not particularly interested in hanging out with again.
8. People who don’t treat you with respect, don’t deserve respect. In all of the examples above, I am assuming that the person you are rejecting is kindhearted. If this person pressures you, makes you feel uncomfortable, or doesn’t believe in equality, you should feel no guilt in removing yourself from the interaction in whatever way that you feel the safest doing so.
Ok, so back to my bad date. In this case I decided to be honest and tell him (as kindly as I could) that he didn’t seem to be interested in what I had to say at all, and no, he hasn’t yet texted me back. However, I decided that in this case there may be a benefit to humanity of me being honest, not only for him, but ideally for future women who may go on dates with him, who are likely to have similar experiences if there isn’t a shift in his behavior.
Say, instead of my lack of interest in my date coming from him not shutting the fuck up, I wasn’t interested in him because his voice sounded like Gollum (been there) or because I couldn’t get over the shape of his ears (or the shape of something else)—would it really be helpful for me to be honest about this? Likely not. When rejecting people, think about the context and think about what will cause them the least amount of pain while, also not being completely full of shit.
Niki Davis is a full-time consent educator, and does private sex and relationship coaching sessions. The focus of her Masters was positive sexuality and she lectured at NYU, The United Nations, and many other institutions on the subjects of sexual communication, sexual assault intervention, and human sexuality.
Cover image courtesy of Canva.