I go on a lot of first dates. A lot. I don’t necessarily go out on lots of second dates though, and I rarely find someone who can stomach me for three or more.
That’s the great risk of being in a state of active dating. Lots of dates means lots of ends to dating. Sometimes, people know after (or during) the first date that it’s a dead end. Sometimes, you find out later on. Generally, I find that prospects have been assessed by the third date. At this point, things can end smoothly without the need for an in-person confrontation or even a phone call. A text will generally get the job done if you’ve only had three dates or less.
After three dates, there is a higher risk that it might gestate into a controversial late-term abortion. So, it’s good to nip your date’s aspirations in the bud before they bloom into disappointment.
Depending on the date(s), there are any number of potential ways to put the brakes on the dating train. I’ve been on both the giving (sometimes) and receiving (often) end of this. Given how commonly people are done dating me, someone figured I was a pro. They asked me what the standard operating procedure should be. For your convenience, I’ve created a flow chart. Please keep in mind though, this is a chart for what to do when you have invariably decided that you are done dating the person. And this is for people with whom you have only been on a maximum of 3 dates, and this is really more of a guideline written by a jaded rake of a man:
How do I terminate dating after 3 or less dates?
- DEFCON 5 – Smooth Text Message Breakup
Conversation unnecessary and may ultimately complicate the ending. Y’all had something decent, but no great prospects. Friendship/civility is a desire on your part. This response is a decent maneuver if you find you need to stop dating someone already in your social/work circle (which I advise strongly against doing in the first place). If you want to return yourselves to thefriendzone, a warm message will let their aspirations transition more smoothly:
- “I would still really like you to be in my life, but I just don’t think we should keep dating.”
- “I really value your friendship, and I want our friendship to keep growing. But I just don’t see us working romantically.”
- “I’m not feeling a romantic chemistry between us, but I really dig you and I hope we can still spend time together!”
- DEFCON 4 – Schroedingers Dead Date
If you weren’t sure if it was a date beforehand, and you’re still not sure if it was a date afterwards, then you can make a flawless transition to the friendzone by just treating them like a friend. If you’re feelings were protoformed in the first place, it’s not even being dishonest. As far as they know, you thought they just wanted to meet up to hang out! Keep calm and friendzone on. If they make a move on you after you’ve made this decision, then you can give them a DEFCON 5 in person.
- DEFCON 3 – Ghost ’em
End communication. Ignore calls/texts. Carry on as if you never met them. If you see them incidentally, offer them a curt but awkward greeting or say nothing at all and try to evacuate the premises quickly. This is a good option if you have been turned off from them by their behavior, if their online profile is grossly inaccurate, or if you found out they like Nickelback. This is the most common vehicle for ending the dating that I’ve received. The receiver might feel similarly and will not push the issue, or they’ll give up when communication isn’t returned. If they keep trying, defer to DEFCON 2.
- DEFCON 2 – Text Message Breakup
No conversation necessary. This if you don’t want to have a continued relationship in nearly any capacity. This isn’t an invite for the date to plead their potential. The sole reason this message is being delivered is to put their hopes under the axe. Deliver it with a cold finality. Something to the effect of:
- “I’ve made up my mind, I don’t think there is any chemistry between us. Please respect my choice”
- “I’m sorry if I’ve done anything to give you an inaccurate impression, but you and I would not work out.”
- Got someone else? If so, “I’m sorry, but I’ve met someone else and I cannot see you any more. Please respect my new relationship.”
- DEFCON 1 – The Blaze of Middle Fingers
The date was more than just bad. Maybe you want to give this person a lesson in better dating practice. Maybe things went so bad, you just want this person to regret going on that date as much as you do. Send them a text that illustrates exactly what your major grievance is:
- “I was already pissed when you showed up late. In the future, I recommend you be punctual and keep your libertarian ideals to yourself on a first date.”
- “You lied about your height and your income on the profile. Don’t contact me ever again. And you’re welcome for the coffee, scrub.”
- “You lewd, crude, rude, bag of pre-chewed food dude.”
You need to be ready for some backlash, no matter how well you do any of these. Even if you have an immediate realization that not dating is a more attractive option, they might not understand your decision entirely. Sure, it’s great when it’s mutual and civil agreement to terms. But sometimes, people (myself included) start counting their partners before they hatch, and it can be very jarring when it ends. No matter how you do it, here are some major pitfalls to avoid when trying to end things early:
- Giving too much hope
When you’re ending things, it doesn’t have to be nice as much as it has to be conclusive. Don’t give any indication that you have second thoughts about it. If you do, they might try to appeal to those. Don’t give them a weak reason, or try to blame it on something else. Your decision has been made and they need to respect it. If they’ve had a date or two with you and you suddenly stop, you might be ending their aspirations too. So make sure you do it with a sense of finality, otherwise they may continue hoping.
- Not giving enough hope
If you still want to be civil/friendly, it’s very helpful to ease them out dating you. Some people think if you don’t want to date them, it means you find them repulsive. It’s a very poor mindset to have, but it happens to plenty of rational people. Make sure you remind them it’s not that they aren’t good, it’s just that the two of you wouldn’t be good.
- Late-term abortion
The above guidelines are for people with whom you have been on very few dates. You can even use the above to diffuse a one night stand. If you’ve been seeing each other for more than 3 dates, there’s a very real chance that your date is planning more than their next time with you. DEFCON 3 should not be used passed the third date. It can make people feel used.