My favourite New Yorker cartoon of all time features a harried-
looking man speaking into a telephone. The caption reads, “How about never? Would never work for you?”
At the moment, I’m tempted to write that phrase three or four times a day. I’ve decided that for the time being, I need to date casually, meet lots of men, and just generally have fun. And so I’m trying to leave my Plenty of Fish account open for more than 24 hours at a time without becoming completely overwhelmed. The trouble is that for every “Maybe” that appears in my inbox, there are three or four “Absolutely Nots.”
I understand from my male friends that many women never respond. If they aren’t interested, they just ignore the message. But that seems unkind to me. It takes courage to put yourself out there, and I think that anyone who has taken that risk deserves a friendly and kind response, even if in the end that response is still “no thanks”.
My rule of thumb is to thank the person for taking the time to contact me, say something nice about his profile, and then give a polite, but firm no. For example:
Thank you for your message. I love that picture of you finishing the 10 K race! You look triumphant! I’ve had a look at your profile, Rafael, and I don’t think that we would be a good match, but I wish you well in your search.
I’ve learned to be vague. As soon as I give a specific reason (you live too far away, you’re obviously in a different place in your life than I am…) it provides an opportunity for the person to explain why that reason doesn’t really matter. (“For you, I’ll move to Victoria!”)
And sometimes, in the interests of kindness, vague is necessary. I’m still trying to figure out a polite way to say, “I only date men with all their teeth.” Or, “I really prefer men who can spell at least a few words correctly in their profile” Or, “I just have a thing about men who pose for their profile pictures fully clothed.”
Kira, Queen of All the Internet Dating, ran into a problem recently when she was too specific. After Kira politely declined a 24 year old’s offer to meet, pointing out that he was half her age, her suitor pestered her with reasons why age shouldn’t matter. Eventually she sent him this message: “Don’t you get it? You are TOO OLD for me! I never date anyone older than 21!” He left her alone after that.
So, I’m pleasant, polite, firm and vague. And if they respond to my “No,” I feel no obligation to carry the conversation further. That’s what the delete function is for.
The trouble is that this all takes time. I spent an hour this afternoon sending out “Internet Dating Rejection Letters,” (time that could be spent in more purposeful pursuits, such as writing blog posts about sending out “Internet Dating Rejection Letters.”)
And so I’ve come up with another brilliant plan for streamlining
the dating process. I’m going to use a strategy for streamlining my workload which is outlined in Timothy Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek.
Ferriss hires a virtual assistant, who because he lives in India, costs far less than a real personal assistant. Don’t you think that’s a great idea? I’m going to have “My Man in India” take care of all the tedious sorting and all of the diplomatic “No Thank You” messages.
I feel lighter already!
And you might want to visit Rose, over at An Etiquette Guide For Sluts, to read her post – and the comments – about saying no gracefully. Really you should just go there because of the title of her blog, and because she’s so funny, but she also has a great article about saying no gracefully. Be sure to read the comments too!