Life Advice



The art of the kind rejection -- and graceful acceptance

Erika Ettin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

Dating is hard. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but it’s worth the occasional reminder so you can always approach every related situation with kindness and compassion (while also being truthful).

This should be especially top of mind when it comes to rejection, a subject no one likes but happens to be a big part of dating. As much as we hope every meetup with a new person turns into something special, that’s not realistic — after all, if you’re looking for “the one,” that’s probably not going to happen on the first try. Therefore, it’s likely that you’re going to be on both sides of rejection at some point.

If you’ve given someone a fair shot (meaning you’ve gone out on a date or two and have been thoughtful about why it’s not working) and decide that this new connection is a dead end, then you have to tell them. This is especially true if that person continues to contact you or asks you on another date. Ghosting (the popular term for when someone suddenly stops talking to their dating companion once they’ve decided to stop pursuing something romantic with them and seemingly disappearing) is for Halloween and immature people. Letting someone know that you just aren’t feeling it is the polite thing to do so they’re not left wondering, “Are they OK?” or “Did I do something wrong?” However, there is a way to let someone down easily and with respect.

Try: “Thanks so much for the nice time [the other night]. Unfortunately, I just didn’t feel the connection I was looking for, but I wish you nothing but the best.”

This kind of message makes your intentions clear — that you don’t want to pursue a further relationship with them — but doesn’t use blame or negativity.


Then there’s the other side of the coin: being the one rejected. This never feels good, but it’s important not to take it personally — if someone isn’t feeling the spark, then it’s the right thing for them to let you know so you can move forward and make another connection. You want someone who feels for you what you feel for them, and you can’t force that. Understand that it likely wasn’t easy for the person on the other side to send that message or have that conversation and accept the news, however disappointing, with grace.

The worst thing you can do is be a jerk in response. It won’t get you anywhere — in fact, it will make the other person immediately feel extremely validated in their decision to stop dating you.

You may also be left wondering why and be tempted to ask that very question. However, asking for feedback rarely is helpful. More than likely, the person won’t be honest, whether that’s in an attempt to spare your feelings or because they just don’t want to come up with exact reasons. In other cases, the feedback is less about you personally. It may be that they are not at a point where they can focus on a relationship, or that they just didn’t find what they were looking for. In many cases, they’re not rejecting you specifically — maybe an ex popped back into their life, work got crazy, or a family member required care… and you were, unfortunately, the collateral damage.

No matter which side of the situation you’re on — and for most scenarios in life — it’s important to remember that you have no control over how others are feeling, what they’re dealing with, and what they do. What you can control is your attitude and actions, so always stay positive and respectful, even in tough situations. It’s not fun (feel free to grab that pint of chocolate ice cream), but in the end, it’s better to know — and get ready for what’s around the next corner.

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