No can be a tough word to say at the best of times. Another cake? Don't mind if I do. One for the road? Make it two. No always seems to want to play hide and seek when you need it the most.
When you're online dating, a lot of dates happen when they really shouldn't. Like a misunderstanding over a spilled pint which quickly turns into a bar brawl, these things should be nipped in the bud when you have the chance. Because you are so adorable, desirable and amazing, lots of people will want to date you, but you can't be into all of them. So you should be clear from the off about what you do and don't want in your online dating profile. A few will totally ignore you and slip through the net of course and, if you're willing to give them a go, can become the best dates of all, but hey. If you're absolutely sure you don't want to 'go there', be firm but fair. Leave the bitchy putdowns to JR Ewing. And me.
"So, would you like to go on a date?"
Nobody should sit through a date they don't want to be on. When you're saying no to a date, whether you've met them or not, you are rejecting them.
You're not a meanie at heart, no matter how distant and calculating you pretend to be, so if you're going to say "thanks, but no thanks" to someone who contacts you online, you're going to want to do it sensitively. Call it karmic dating, if you like. One day, that poor sod is going to be you. How do you want to hear the bad news?
"Thanks for the interest. I'm chatting to a couple of other people right now who seem to be more what I'm looking for. Best of luck with your search!"
"I've looked at your profile and, while you seem a really cool guy, I'm not sure we're a good match, so I don't think we should go on a date. I don't want us to waste each other's time."
"I've kind of got my eye on a certain someone on the site and don't think it would be fair to date you while I'm still working things out. Hope you find what you're looking for."
If none of those work, deliver the slamdown:
"Sorry, you're not my type. I don't want to take this any further."
You might be surprised at how nasty this can turn, and how quickly. You should fully expect even the nicest of rebuffs to turn kindly Keith from Kettering into a whirling tornado of embittered vitriol. They might call you ugly, stupid or tell you to go fuck yourself. Don't get into the dialogue they are so desperate for. Just block them and get on with your life. They still lose; they didn't get to date you. And you do not have a big nose, whatever they might say.
"Would you like to do this again?"
So, you actually went on the date, and it's the end of the evening. If you're being asked this question, the night can't have been too much of a disaster, unless your date is running low on self-awareness. I did, once, exclaim "REALLY?!" when a guy asked whether he could see me again - I had assumed from the monosyllabic chat and refusal to make eye contact that he'd rather be chased round the souks of Tangier by a knife-wielding baboon than ever again gaze at me over a pint of mild. It turns out he was shy.
But, generally, when you're invited to "do this again" there has either been a flicker of mutual interest or one of you has been doing some RADA-standard acting. But if you've not been feeling it enough to want an encore, this question can put you in a tricky position. Do you want the evening to take an acidic turn? Do you lie? Will your date understand? Maybe they're asking out of politeness?
Some schools of thought say you should be honest and upfront, say thank you but no and maybe explain you didn't feel there was sufficient chemistry to continue. Well, yeah, but it's getting late and you don't want to put a downer on the evening, so the Guyliner school of thought says, just answer "Sure, why not? Drop me a text and we'll sort something out", dole out a peck on the cheek (no lips, never mind tongues) and be on your merry way before you miss your bus. Then, should they bother to get in touch, do all the hard stuff over text.
"I'm not sure there was enough spark, but it was great to meet you."
"Sorry, I think I still want to date a few more people and don't want to mess you around. Thought it was important to be honest."
"Sorry, I'm really busy with work and other stuff; I don't think I have time to seriously date anyone right now."
Copouts? Maybe. The truth? Possibly. It always looks much better written down, and you don't even have to do your best 'sincere face'.
You may think you'd want to hear the news in person, but, as I have touched on before in my guide to dumping somebody by text, there's not much point in the why and the wherefores when you're being ditched. It's mortally embarrassing for you both and you really just want to be out of there. So get out of there.