I got this question recently from a client:
"I wanted to share the details about my date on Saturday. It was OK – nothing to write home about – just OK. He's not someone I would like to get to know further, but he sent me a text a couple hours after I got home asking if I'd like to do it again. Do I have to answer it, or can I just let it go?"
-- Jacqueline, 48, Los Angeles
First, I'm really glad you were able to meet, even if it wasn't a match. I hope you were at least able to have a nice conversation and learn a few things about each other. My first question is this: Are you 100% sure you do not want to see him again? Remember that a second date doesn't commit you to anything other than another hour or so of your time and one more conversation. If the answer is still a no about seeing him again, then, in response to your question, yes, you have to answer his text.
Here's my rule: If someone makes him or herself vulnerable to you (like asking you out again), then you do owe that person a response. Nothing lengthy, but a tactful and honest response to indicate that you are going to decline. For example, "Thanks so much for your note and for a nice time today! Unfortunately, I just didn't feel the romantic connection I was looking for, but I wish you all the best!" You can replace "romantic connection" with "spark," "chemistry," or anything that feels right to you.
While someone may be disappointed that you don't feel a connection, he can't really be angry with you for feeling the way you do.
I know sometimes we think people should just "get it" if we don't respond, but that actually has a much worse impact on both people. Ghosting not only makes someone confused, but it takes that person longer to get over someone in the absence of closure. The nicest thing you can do for someone is to tell the truth. Ignoring it doesn't spare someone's feelings – it does the opposite.
You're welcome to run your text by me if you want me to give it a read before you send it to him. Thanks so much for asking!