Use your judgment
How you explain that you’re not interested in someone depends on how many times you’ve been out together, and how far you’ve come in your relationship.
If it’s only an initial request to start chatting, you should feel no obligation to reply if you don’t want to. However, if you’ve been out on a date, it’s common courtesy to explain to the other person that you’re not feeling the same way you did before.
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Do unto others…
Sending mixed messages to someone who’s interested in you isn’t fair, especially when you know they like you more than you like them. If you don’t want to pursue anything romantic with someone, don’t make ambiguous statements or promises you don’t intend to keep. Think how you’d feel if you found out someone was stringing you along and treat others as you’d like to be treated yourself. Be firm and clear, but always kind.
Extend the offer of friendship
Rejection can be hard for both parties, but if you do genuinely enjoy the other person’s company, you might suggest keeping in touch as friends. Some fantastic friendships can be born from dates and just because you’re not right for each other romantically doesn't mean you can’t enjoy a satisfying platonic friendship. It’s worth a shot, right?
Keep it simple
Try not to send any long-winded excuses about why you can’t meet up, or continue your relationship. Doing so invites a response and could mean you both end up caught in emotionally draining conversations. Think of rejection like pulling off a plaster; do it quickly and it will hurt less, for a shorter amount of time. Honesty is always the best policy.
Everyone deals with rejection differently and some can be more sensitive than others – particularly after divorce or widowhood. Some might even push you for details of why you’re no longer interested. Whichever way it goes, don’t get dragged into a discussion or confrontation about what it is that’s wrong with that person. Always be conscious of the other person’s feelings, but stay firm and simple. It will give everyone closure so they can move on.
It's never easy ending any kind of relationship, no matter how recent it is. But you owe it to both parties to be honest and cut ties so everyone has a chance to meet their perfect match. For more tips about online dating over 50, check out our guide to dating decorum.
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