You check your inbox. New message!
Excited, you click on “Loved your profile” from amateurchef81. The message is polite, even sweet, but after you’ve browsed his photos and “about me” section, your interest vanishes. He’s nice, just not your type. You go back to your inbox and his well written introduction stares at you on the screen.
What do you do?
During my time online dating, I wrestled with this question MANY times. My first instinct was to write back, thanking them for their interest, but politely stating that I didn’t think we were a good match, and wishing them the best. I blame my parents. The first time I sent a “thanks, but no thanks” message, I received a very polite response, thanking me for taking the time to write him back.
I thought I’d found the perfect system. But did I?
The second time I turned someone down, the guy sent me an email asking if I was sure. Politely, I responded, yes I am sure. But are you really sure? He pressed again, sending me a list of reasons why he thought we were prefect for each other. With a mental sigh, I responded yet again that yes I was sure. Okay, he told me, while adding that he had to try.
The exchange was awkward, but not horrible so I continued with my system.
The third time I said “no thanks, best of luck,” the guy argued with me. It was as though sending that one message had opened the flood gates. After a few email exchanges, the argument started to heat up. I didn’t see him retreating anytime soon, so I stopped responding. My inbox flooded with hate mail, resulting in one final farewell note that read:
I hope you die in a fire.
Oddly specific. Why not a flood? Or a lightning storm? Or something more original like, I hope a monkey chokes you to death with a banana. Needless to say, I avoided candles for a few days and reported the guy to the eHarmony police.
I tried representing well-raised individuals a few more times after that, but soon realized the polite response I received the first time was merely beginners luck. While most men didn’t wish me death by fire, most of them did continue writing me.
Some pleaded, some stalked and some insulted.
One guy even told me he understood why I was divorced. Ouch.
In the end, I settled for not responding to emails unless I was genuinely interested. For a while, I did feel rude, even downright mean, but eventually I realized I was doing them a favor, letting them move on without wasting their time trying to change my mind or look for reasons to put me down. It was only on a very rare occasion, when someone appeared sane and nice, and took the time to write me a very long, thoughtful email, that I responded with an equally thoughtful “thanks, but no thanks” email. Although sadly, that scenario was very rare.
The takeaway: unless you feel strongly compelled, don’t bother turning people down nicely via email. Of course, this only applies to their first communication attempt. If you’ve already exchanged emails, texted, talked or met in person, a response is necessary. Unless they tell you they hope you die in a fire. Then you can ignore the crazy a$$.