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.

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.

Join our conversation (39 Comments).
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  1. 21
    Saint Stephen

    The OP must be fairly attractive. Imagine a man writing and seeking advice from a dating/relationship expert on how to say no to the massive number of women who write to him online. Maybe in our next life (If there was ever one).

  2. 22

    Thanks AllenB,
    I highly appreciate your answer to me!

  3. 23

    Honestly, I’m at the point of doing exactly what men do – disappear! Why take the time to be polite and courteous and let them down gently, when they don’t bother doing that to women? If it’s only been 1 date, or just chatting via email – it’s not something that either of you are heavily invested in yet, so doesn’t really require an official break up.

  4. 24

    I prefer a direct “I’m not interested.”
    I do not even need a reason.
    No harm no foul.
    The first few rejections years ago hurt, but more so because they were vague.
    I’ve always been direct myself.
    Just simpler that way.

  5. 25

    Deev #23:
    (1) Well, I say that if *you* go through the trouble of planning and paying for a first date (which is what men are doing all the time), and if *you* are being proactive as far as calling for a second (men do this too), *then* you have a reasonable expectation to the other person being decent enough to get back to you courteously either way. Until then though…. I’m not trying to be snide here. Have you tried contacting the man after the date yourself? Just as men have the right to contact you, you can do likewise. I will get back to the woman and be straight with her if she were to contact me and let me know that she would like to see me again. If she does not though, and I am not feeling it, then I usually won’t do anything. It might come across as presumptuous of me to write a woman right after the date and say “Hey, just wanted to let you know that I’m not interested” as very often, she wasn’t interested either!
    (2) Don’t punish the guy you just saw for “mistakes” that others you went out with made towards you. They’re different guys!

  6. 26

    @ Tina
    I can (maybe, at a stretch) understand why AllenB is defending man in question but I don’t understand why you are investing so much energy pursuing someone who is, quite obviously, taking you for granted. Yes, he likes you because you’re great. Yes, he thinks you’re attractive because you are. Does he think you’re the one? Absolutely not. He keeps you around because you’re good for his ego. It doesn’t take much energy to send a text but it takes a lot more energy to follow up with action. And there is none. You are worth much more than being some man’s back up plan. If he has not made you the object of his affection then he does not deserve being yours.
    Finding ways to justify his ‘behavior’ will not make him change. Walking away with your head held high and your self respect intact will more than likely change how he sees you.
    ‘If a man says he doesn’t know what he wants, he doesn’t want what he has right now’. If he wanted you, he would have stored his baggage in the overhead locker, not carry it around and ask you to ‘keep an eye on this for me’
    Off my soap box now. It’s so frustrating to see my sister go through this same scenario.

    sees you.

  7. 27

    Hey Hakoonamatata, thank you very much too!
    I invested so much time and feelings and everything into this man because this is the way I am, when I’m i love with somebody. It hurts as hell now but I hope the time will cure me.
    I just wanted this level of honesty and respect Evan talks into this article.

  8. 28

    @ Hakoonamatata and @ Tina
    It isn’t about justification or not..   It is about making a conscious choice. If he really is sending “mixed signals” then he is probably confused rather than evil and selfish. Someone confused is NOT good relationship material and waiting on them is an ineffective strategy, as Evan would say.   They might never be deconfused, and until they are they won’t even know if you are their type. So you wait and maybe both changes fall your way, or maybe not, or maybe they never come at all.
    Evan might also say the conscious choice is not so easy when you brain is flooded with chemicals. You won’t be available for anyone else while it is and those feelings center around thoughts of this man. How you interrupt that pattern,   is up to you, but if you don’t you have to be at peace with being in the same situation you are now in six months, one year, two years, because you can’t control when you will get clarity from this man. Know what you might be giving up if you keep this up.
    I recommend dating other men and keeping in touch with this one if you can do both with equivalent investment. That also means letting him go if you find someone before he gives you clarity..
    Oh, and he will take your presence for granted.   That is natural too, because of your ever-present availability. You might help him focus through his confusion if he starts to lose your availability, but that is   also a long shot.

  9. 29

    Yes AllenB, I agree that we all have conscious choices and I do not consider myself for a victim or something like that.
    As for dating other men, I can not do this in this specific moment of my life because I’m not in position to meet someone else and then give him only empty hopes. I prefer to direct my attention toward other things like study, work, hobbies and this is also a conscious choice. But thank you very much for your opinion!

  10. 30
    Mary Jonson

    Nice article. Online dating is sometimes a very difficult thing, but a very useful too. We can meet our destiny online or just make new friends, or have a good time. And boys, they pretend to be funny and interesting but not all of them can actually do this        

  11. 31

    I like David’s response.   Saying oh you just missed it by 2 messages sounds like a great way to let them know it’s not them.   I must say though, peeing around the bush may not be the best tactic.   The guy may need to know what they are doing wrong for the next girl that comes around.   Depending on the guy they may appreciate the positive  criticism.   Try not to make it sound negative but act as though you are trying to help them for future dates.

  12. 32

    I just hide when im overwhelmed. But, then some men who ive talked to will send ,”what did i do wrong” messages!! Ugh , so insecure that i def lose interest. So, guys stop that one ..

  13. 33

    What a problem to have. I cannot imagine being so fortunate. Must be nice.

  14. 34

    # 33
    You must be a misogynist. You  shouldn’t  think along these lines.

  15. 35

    Call me crazy, but what kind of man or woman worth anything has so many dates? I certainly wouldn’t give 5 moments of small talk much less a second look to someone who plans to pencil me in for a Tuesday while they spend the rest of their time with God knows how many people.

    Dating is for tramps. Commitment is for people of quality.

    And don’t give me that nonsense about dating comes before commitment. I just can’t rationalize how managing a deuce biggalow style schedule counts as dating. Sounds like a night out with a few Johns each week.

  16. 36

    I had the same problem when dating online. Guys would get really mad if I didn’t respond to their messages, even if it was as generic as a “Hey”. If someone took the time to write out a nice message, in which it was clear they read my profile, and put some thought into it, I would always make time to reply; regardless if I was interested or not. I just don’t understand guys that get mad if I didn’t reply to a “Hi”. You didn’t put any effort in, so why should I?

  17. 37
    say that again

    trouble in paradise.

    I see a woman running a relationship like a work place with appointments, diaries and bookings.

    Problems is the man on the other side is not thinking like that.

    I would be the first to drop you just by displaying this behaviour.

    Dont want to make appointments for sex when we start dating.

    1. 37.1

      Say that again #37 I wouldnt be having sex with you if we were just dating !

  18. 38

    The lack of rules, and the presence of 101 “rules of thumb” make dating in general and specifically online, quite challenging.   There have been many valid points made, both by the author and many readers who either share or having differing opinions or experiences than the author.   The fact that there are so many variances simply highlights the differences in mentalities from person to person.   Even more challenging is understanding the opposite sex’s general take on a situation.   In particular, the “I want to be friends” response can completely befuddle a guy.   On the surface, it seems like plain English, and in many circumstances, it probably should be understood exactly as it is said/read.   However, a great philosopher, Lloyd Christmas (portrayed by Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber), once said and I quote, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance”.   The reality (as the author discusses) is both sides rarely share the exact same level of interest.   So using the “you’re a great guy, let’s be friends” should really only be used when it’s 100% true.   Even then, some guys who are more vested in the possibility of a romantic relationship will accept an offer of friendship only to remain close and see if things can change (“I’m sure I can win her over”).   When letting people (especially guys) down, I believe the same advice given to guys about asking women out is pertinent.   Be direct and polite.   There are many articles explaining to guys the virtue of making your intentions known and being direct when asking a woman out.   In contrast, so many women are doing their best to “protect men’s egos” that they’re actually doing more immediate harm by sending mixed signals.   Now, there is something to be said for the guy who will get angry at the direct approach; two somethings actually.   First, if you weren’t totally sure before he reacted that way, it helps to solidify the decision in your mind, and you can rest easy.   Second, I believe in most cases the warning signs are there.   Despite the help of many books, magazines and articles that teach men not to say certain things leading up to and on a first date, men can’t help but express themselves.   Picking up on these subtle inferences of how they’ve been doing recently in the “market” or how they view relationships should produce some indicators that could make a difference in the decision making process.

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