How Do I Say No to All The Guys Who Write to Me Online?

I seem to have the opposite problem of most of the women in your blog when it comes to online dating – too much of a good thing! I get a fair number of interesting replies and first messages and there are two things I’m struggling with. First, is there an acceptable way to say, “My dance card is pretty full right now, but I’ll get back to you in a few weeks if none of those dates go further?” I can’t think of a good way to phrase this that doesn’t sound like the guy is “second choice” or a backup option – and usually he is a perfectly interesting and attractive person, not a second choice at all, but I don’t want to be in the situation of having three different dates every week and having to draw up a spreadsheet to keep track of them all! At the same time, changing my profile status to “seeing someone” every time I go on a second date seems like overkill.

My second question is about saying no/rejecting people. I hate it, and I’m terrible at it! I know what I am supposed to do – spit it out, be direct – but I really, really wish there was a less uncomfortable way to do it (men have it easy, all they have to do is not call). I feel like I need some formal practice – I would totally sign up for a workshop that was nothing but 2 hours straight of saying, “no, thank you, it was nice to meet you, I know we had a great chat about X, but the chemistry isn’t there for me and I don’t want a second date,” over and over until the cringy awkwardness was washed out of it. Do such workshops exist? (Yes, I’ve looked – no luck so far.) If not, any suggestions on overcoming my extreme internal resistance to being so blunt?

Thanks for any suggestions you can offer! —Erin

High-class problems, Erin. High-class problems.

And you totally came to the right guy to answer them.

Really, I hate to toot my own horn about my embarrassingly vast online dating experience, but, well, TOOT TOOT!

So your cup runneth over, eh?

There’s no dating without heartbreak, any more than there’s swimming without getting wet.

Ready for Lasting Love?
Ready for Lasting Love?

You want to act with integrity and be nice, but not hurt anybody’s feelings.

Join the crowd. Most people, men and women, have no interest in hurting anyone passively or actively. The problem is that there’s usually going to be one person who is more invested than the other person. And this power imbalance means that broken hearts are par for the course. Thus, there’s no dating without heartbreak, any more than there’s swimming without getting wet.

So for the first question, you have three things you can do more effectively.

First, you can curb the flow of incoming responses by either deleting your photos or hiding your profile. That way, you can deal with only the existing guys in a timely and fair manner. If you’re communicating with 7-10 decent guys in your inbox, that will usually result in about 2 dates. If one of the dates doesn’t pan out, you can either promote guys from the minor leagues, or reactivate your photos/profile to get more incoming traffic.

Second, you need to be better at screening. Finding the One Online has an entire CD that describes how to flirt with men in a way that keeps their attention and slows them down to a pace you’re comfortable with. If you find that online dating has overtaken your life and you have no control of your own schedule, you’re doing it wrong. Really. Learn to screen guys better and make email and phone into a fun challenge for them and you can have as many or as few dates a week as you want.

If you find that online dating has overtaken your life and you have no control of your own schedule, you’re doing it wrong. Really.

Finally, if you’re excited about two guys who you’ve gone on two dates with, and you want to tell the other 10 what’s up, your approach is actually the right one. You can probably finesse the wording a little bit:

Dear Adam,

It’s been really great getting to know you, but I have to tell you the truth: I started to see a guy and things are getting a little more serious. So I’m going to hide my profile on for now and see where things go. If they don’t work out — which is always a possibility — I hope I can contact you again. In the meantime, best of luck with your search.

Warmest wishes,


Men are so unaccustomed to getting treated with this level of honesty and respect, they will love you for it, and you will absolutely be able to go back to them in the future — even if they were, technically, your “second choice”

As for your second query, you’re making it much more complicated than it needs to be.


The night after a boring date that doesn’t inspire you to go out again, you just fire off an email. You may notice that it sounds very similar to the one you read ten seconds ago.

Dear Adam,

I had a nice time last night and really appreciate you treating me to Applebees, followed by the Disney On Ice; it was extremely generous of you.

However, I don’t feel the necessary “click” to continue to move things forward with our relationship. You’re a great guy and I’m glad I had the chance to get to know you. I’m sure you’re going to make some girl really happy one day. Best of luck and warmest wishes,



It’s not a negotiation; it’s a declaration.

You don’t have to explain why you don’t like him. You don’t have to promise to stay in touch as friends. You don’t have to do anything, except give him a slightly diluted version of the truth, so you don’t hurt his feelings when you reject him.

Sure, he can press you on WHY you didn’t feel it for him. Sure, he can write you a note that says that he thinks you’re a bitch and that you’ll die old alone. But that has nothing to do with you. You can rest easy, knowing that you did the classy thing, and that there’s nothing else that you can do to make it go down any easier.

After you do this a few dozen times, it becomes pretty natural, I assure you.