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How do you tell Him/Her they are not "the one"?
You met online and had a great email exchange for a week. Then you called her and the two of you really clicked. You (mentally) built up the potential for a real relationship with her as you agreed to get together for that first date. The day came, you met for lunch, and it went downhill from there. She looked "different" than you had expected or remembered, the conversation felt strained and/or you were uncomfortable and anxious to get it over with. As the date came to a close and she told you she had a nice time, you were at a loss for words. What should you have said? After all, you didn't want to hurt her feelings.
This scenario plays itself out frequently in the meeting and dating world. Boy meets girl in cyber space, on a chance encounter or perhaps through mutual friends. Both people have an interest in going out and getting to know each other. However, after one or more dates, one individual feels good about their connection and the other decides the chemistry just isn't right. When this happens, the person who is not interested in pursuing the relationship is left to make a choice of how (if) to tell the other person that they are not the one.
Let me begin with a list of (all too common) examples that illustrate what you should never utter:
* Say you had a good time and that you will call her later- then never call.
* Tell him you had a good time but will be very busy for a few weeks and will email when your schedule allows.
* Make tentative plans for later in the week, but never call and/or respond to phone messages or emails.
* Agree to a date next week and then not call or show up as planned.
You may now be thinking, "OK, so if I don't use one of the above, what can I do to avoid being hurtful and/or having to potentially deal with an unpleasant scene?" The short answer is that there is no right way to let someone down and avoid the painful feelings and emotional fallout that come with rejection. The reality is that someone will be hurt and disappointed. This is the risk we assume when we open ourselves up to new relationship possibilities.
However, you can make the rejection less painful and a little easier on both of you when you are gently honest and avoid offering false hope and/or giving mixed messages. The following examples are things you should do:
* Make the lack of a right connection between the two of you THE issue. This means don't point out things that are WRONG with him/her as the reasons for your lack of interest.
* Emphasize the importance for both of you to find that right person to build a relationship with.
* Avoid any mixed messages such as, " I am very attracted to you and think we could have something special, but I just have too much going on in my life right now?"
* Be clear that you will not change your mind, become available at a later time or develop an interest if the other person changes themselves to better suit your needs and wants.
* Allow the other person to ask questions and express their feelings. Then answer their questions honestly as this will help them to feel respected, know they have been heard and to get closure, which will allow them to move on more easily.
Most of all think about how YOU would want to be treated if the situation were reversed. Would you want to be lied to and led on? Not only would you be wasting your time, you would also be at risk of developing a false belief that there is something wrong with you that causes you to be undesirable and/or unable to form and sustain a healthy, intimate relationship.
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Toni Coleman, LCSW
© Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.
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