What’s Best Way to Say “No Thanks” to Someone Who Sends a Thoughtful Message?

woman thinking of a best way to say no thanks

Thank you for all your helpful advice. I sincerely appreciate the way you can make me laugh while reading about some painful topics. I would like to know if it is appropriate to send a “thanks, but no thanks” reply to a man who sends thoughtful and flattering messages, but is someone I would definitely not care to date? I’m not referring to men who are just average in appearance, who have poor photos or are perhaps a bit older than I would like. I’m talking about ones that are homely or much older than I feel is acceptable. Early on in my profile, I mention how I value kindness. I feel like a bitch for not acknowledging these cordial messages. Seems like it makes for bad karma, but I don’t want to encourage them and I can’t find a way to explain why I don’t feel we are a good fit.


This is wrong in all sorts of ways, but here goes anyway:

It’s called The Homeless Man Theory. I feel like I thought of it when I was writing my first book in 2003, but I’ve aged significantly since then. Apparently, I’ve aged enough to stick with such a politically incorrect title despite these politically correct times.

In the two places I’ve lived — New York and Los Angeles — there are many homeless people. We could get into the weeds about income inequality, alcoholism, mental illness, support systems, and the dignity of a human life – but we won’t.

You are not obliged under the guise of “good karma” to write back to each and every individual who wrote something sweet and sincere.

Point is: I have compassion for homeless people; I just don’t want to have to stop and offer money to every single one because I’m privileged and feel guilty. Sometimes, you just want to buy groceries, take money out of the ATM, or show your kids the Santa Monica pier without incident.

(Am I the worst person in the world? Don’t answer that. I sleep well at night.)

Anyway, Odalis, there are a lot of men online who will send all sorts of messages — flirts, winks, texts, phone numbers, short emails, long emails, stalker-like manifestos, dick-pics and incessant follow-ups.

Some are thoughtful and flattering. Some are creepy and weird. Not all of them deserve a response.

You are not a human resources department. You are not obliged under the guise of “good karma” to write back to each and every individual who wrote something sweet and sincere. You are not a bitch for ignoring a message from an unattractive man, any more than Harvard is wrong not to admit kids with average SAT scores. You are merely being practical. Which brings us back to The Homeless Man Theory.

You know the best way to avoid being followed down the block by a homeless man who wants to engage you in conversation? Avoid eye contact. It may sound cold, but it’s really not much different than a woman avoiding eye contact with a man at a bar who she doesn’t want to approach her.

If you disagree with me because you’re too nice for that, God bless you. The world needs more people like you. You write something simple and inoffensive.

Dear Bill,

Thanks for your sweet email. I don’t think we’re a match, but best of luck in your search.



Now you get your reward for making eye contact with the homeless man on Match. He’s been rejected by hundreds of women; you were the only one nice enough to explain yourself.

That’s why he’s going to follow you down the block…

Dear Odalis,

How do you know if we’re not a match? You haven’t even met me yet. Maybe you’d like me if you gave me a chance. Hope to hear from you soon…


You consider ignoring this, but you have too much of a conscience. This is a human being and he deserves an answer.

Dear Bill,

Thanks for following up. I understand where you’re coming from. I just think that between our age difference, our distance, and our lack of common interests, we’re not a great long-term fit. It’s nothing personal. Again, best of luck in your search.



Bill responds immediately.

Save your polite rejection emails for men you’ve met in person, the day after the date.

Hey, Odalis,

That doesn’t seem very fair. It’s like you’re not even giving me a chance. You don’t really know someone until you’ve met them in person, you know? For what it’s worth, I’m told I look ten years younger than my age and I look much better than my photos might indicate. Or maybe it’s because I admitted that I make less than $50,000. I knew that was a mistake. I should have lied like all the other men do. Sorry, I’m not going to pretend to be rich, but when did women start becoming such fucking golddiggers, anyway? You know what, honey? There’s a reason women like you are still single. It’s because you’re not a very nice person. You pass up on guys like me and go out with tall, rich, jackasses, then complain that there are no good men out there. Fuck you and the Mercedes you rode in on!


Does that sound a bit extreme? Well, guess what? It happens ALL the time. Sad, lonely men lashing out at the only women polite enough to respond to them with a brief rejection letter. In my humble opinion, it just ain’t worth it.

Delete all the men who flood your inbox. Save your polite rejection emails for men you’ve met in person, the day after the date. It takes a lot less time and will be a lot more appreciated.

For the most part.

Join our conversation (32 Comments).
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  1. 1

    This was absolutely my experience. Some of these rejected men can be very scary (and I don’t scare easily). I learned to not even bother with the ‘thanks but no thanks, good luck in your search’ responses. It wasn’t worth the aggravation  and harrassment. I have good reasons for deciding someone is likely not a good fit and I didn’t need some dude I don’t even know second-guessing me and what’s in my own best interest. Besides, many of us women get literally dozens, if not hundreds, of responses a day and it can become a full-time job to respond to every one of them.

    1. 1.1

      I had the same exact experience and could never figure this one out?   I mean did they think they could change my mind?   By being a jerk and harassing me?

  2. 2
    Julie watson

    Me also- i remember being on Match when i was 44- getting emails from guys in their 60s, sending those nice thanks but no thanks emails and getting EXACTLY what Evan   explained- a much older and not very attractive- at least to me- guy trying to convince me to meet him in person even though he was 20 years older than me and i’d clearly said i thought that was too much of an age gap. Its nice to be nice but one quickly learns there’s no point…

  3. 3

    On another forum I read, the “preemptive rejection” has been discussed. Two people go out on a date, one of them knows they don’t want to go out again and shoots off a text or email when they get home, or the next morning hoping to preempt the other person from contacting them again. “Hey Joe/Jane, thanks for coming out to meet me, didn’t feel the chemistry, sorry. Good luck with your search!”

    The person doing this may think they are being polite, but it’s often not received that way by the person on the other  end.   The person on the other end may have had no intention of getting together again, they just weren’t going to have further contact and let it drop.   If neither party reaches out, both save face.   The consensus on that blog, was most would rather the “rejection message” came after they made an attempt at further contact, not before.

    Extrapolating, how many people do you think would like to get a rejection message from someone they never met? If they never receive a reply, at least they can say “Oh well. Gave it shot.” and move on. A preemptive rejection might stick in their craw and provoke them as in EMK’s illustration. No one needs that.

    Also consider: if someone is going to ignore what you put in your profile (eg: age range), you don’t owe them anything.


    1. 3.1

      “Also consider: if someone is going to ignore what you put in your profile (eg: age range), you don’t owe them anything.”

      So true!

  4. 4

    I actually have had the opposite experience with a very similarly worded email. 9 out 10 reply and say thank you for replying, best of luck to you as well. Occasionally someone will take it as an opportunity to say something nasty, to which I will reply and say that someone was kind to them and responded instead of ignoring them and that doesn’t give the right to  use the anonymity of the internet to lash out. And then they are blocked.

    I became overwhelmed with responding, thanks but no thanks, so I agree with Evan that you can’t do it for everybody. But for those that took a risk and sent a really kind opening note, I agree with a least having the courtesy  to do the same back.

    1. 4.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I agree, Tanja and I said so in my products and courses. But there’s nothing “wrong” with ignoring the dozens of generic, aggressive emails that you receive from men.

    2. 4.2

      I had a similar experience to you, Tanja.   Guys who’d put a bit of thought into their initial contact ~ they were few and far between ~ received a message very similar to this (above) from me.   The number of sweet comments I received back, (“Thanks for letting me know – you’re the only woman here who has ever even bothered to tell me she wasn’t interested!”   “That’s a classy thing to say; you seem like a kind lady and whoever gets you will be lucky.” etc) surprised and humbled me.   Once in a while, I’d receive some snarky response, or a man would try to convince me that no, we were indeed a good match.   But frankly, those were rare and rolled off my back.

      I agree with Evan that you don’t need to respond and that in so doing, you might open yourself to further cajoling from pushy men.   However, spending 15 minutes/ week sending a polite no thank you to guys who were gracious enough to write to me didn’t feel terribly onerous.   And truthfully, my messages were less for the fellows than for me; I found online dating to be so unpleasant that it made me feel better to try to be a wee bit civil and humane

      1. 4.2.1

        great response 🙂

    3. 4.3

      I had/have the same experience.   I always try to reply if they took the time to read my profile, comment on that and said something nice.   I have had a few really bad reactions, but those are few.   I do not reply to generic flirts, likes, faves, etc. for the most part, once in a while I will though.

      I just find it common courtesy….even if it is rarely returned (i.e. I send a thoughtful message and no reply whatsoever, happens all the time).

  5. 5

    Once again, exactly what Evan said. Men send out quite a few e-mails a day, and most of the women don’t respond back, unless he looks like George Clooney. If you send a thanks but no thanks message, it’s just fuel to the fire. Finally a message!  They have learnt that in all other areas of life, you can debate/negotiate a better position if you just show some grit. So they decide to start a debate with you. And then get all put out because you are not open to negotiations. Whereupon you are magically too uggo/too old for them anyway and you will just end up all alone because you are just…way…too…PICKY. Loser!

    Save the effort for the man who spent an evening with you at the wine bar but whereby you weren’t just feeling it.

  6. 6

    When I WAS online, if I did this for every thoughtful message I received, I would be exhausted.

    As a woman, I got so many new emails a day (minimum of 30) that who has that kind of time? It may sound kind of cold but I don’t respond if it’s not what I am looking for. The one time I sent an email back in response (I was new to it), I got a bunch of questions searching for reasons why I was not interested. There is a certain type of coldness that happens online. It’s just part of the process and if a man or woman takes it really personal after not getting a response, they do not need to online date period.

  7. 7
    Yet Another Guy

    You owe the guy nothing.   Unless a guy has an SMV of 9 or 10, he quickly learns that rejection is part of playing the game.   If he is a typical guy who has been online for a more than a week or two, he has learned to write several women at a time because he knows that not all will respond.

    1. 7.1


      LOL…Exactly!   That’s why some men write the same emails to a bunch of women. And most of us can tell it’s generic. I used to judge harshly on this but now, I kinda understand.

  8. 8

    Hahaha!! Literally laughing out loud on the subway as I read this! Too funny!!

    This is SO TRUE!!




  9. 9

    I absolutely agree with Evan. I’ve done the polite route with men and what he describes above has been my experience.

  10. 10

    And what Evan says is exactly what happened to me and exactly why I did not respond and say no thanks.

  11. 11

    This was interesting.   Indeed another side of Evan.   And I’m glad I listen to these recordings. It really rounds you out as a person.   Over the years, I’ve just seen more sides of you.   Even for free. It makes a difference.

    I also like that you want to be remembered as a person of integrity.   Whatever happens in my dating life, I’ll remember you just for always having such positive intentions.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    1. 11.1

      Ah, posted on the wrong thread.   But that’s okay. Maybe more people will go over there and listen to that interview!

  12. 12

    It was thanks to advice from Evan that I read years ago that I stopped spending time trying to be polite to every man I didn’t think was a good fit for me, and it’s great advice. I simply don’t have enough energy to give a bit out to everyone. And Evan is quite right, replying simply encourages them, and before you know it you’ve been insulted.


    I remember last year I went out with a guy that I met on Tinder twice. It was no big deal – we met for a drink one night, had a good time so we decided to go out for a light meal a couple of days later. I didn’t hear much from him for a week after that, but that was ok since in the interim I had met another guy whom I liked a lot and was spending a lot of time with. The first guy also lived a distance away which I felt was a bit too far, whilst the other guy lived five minutes away. The first guy was nice but I didn’t feel like pursuing it. I thought it had fizzled out on its own, but when I eventually heard from him again I sent him a polite message saying I thought he was a lovely guy and I hoped he would find someone nice but that I was going to pursue options closer to home. My thanks for doing this was a reply very similar to the one Evan drafted above – that I was a nasty person who wouldn’t even give him a chance, that distance was nothing if you really liked someone and essentially telling me to go f*** myself before blocking me. I was dumbfounded. But there ya are. Whilst you may have manners, not everyone else does.

  13. 13

    Evan is so right. I went down that road before and was called so many bad names just for being nice. Don’t do it girl!

  14. 14
    Kathy Kobos

    I found that a little white lie can go along way in them leaving you alone.   Such as,

    Thanks but I just started dating someone else I really like on this dating site so I’d rather not get too many irons in the fire,   it gets too confusing.

    or          I’m getting back with my old boyfriend.

  15. 15

    Great advice Evan. Reluctantly back on line again and have already dropped two sites due to the sheer plethora of creepazoids from around my area. Don’t date in my home region for this very reason. Used to be like the OP and be kind to every waif and stray I met thinking that no one else treats them with the respect and dignity every human being deserves. It DOES get perceived as interest and suddenly you have a huge problem. In a small town such as this, where I am a prominent member of the community and easily recognizable, these folk can find where I live with little effort. Scary. In my on line profile while I don’t state preferences in the verbiage, it’s pretty clear in the list of what I’m looking for. There’s   no obligation to someone who refuses to read profiles before initiating contact.

  16. 16

    Evan, these days Match has added 2 magical buttons to its messaging interface: “Say No Thanks” and “Block from contact”. The first one automatically generates and sends a polite rejection email. The second.. self explanatory. I use them a lot in that order on men who are within my “hard” search criteria but are still missing something. However if a guy is clearly outside of my search criteria I don’t even bother.

    And yes, I did have a similar experience to what Evan described. I don’t date guys from suburbs and one of them really wanted to sell me on it. Bullet dodged

  17. 17

    @odalis, bless you for asking this question…it speaks very well of you even though you may be signing yourself up for extra hassle.   I agree that you don’t owe every man a response (especially the ones who write “McResponses” but I think it’s worth encouraging the ones who have clearly taken the time to write something sweet, thoughtful and tailored to you.

    1. 17.1

      A kindred spirit…

  18. 18

    Apologies for the double post but I just realised that I left out a comment on the original question in the post.   I don’t think it’s necessary to explain exactly why you don’t think there is a fit.   Just acknowledge that you find the effort put into the message heartwarming as it can be rare to find.   You can then  say that even though you don’t feel you’re a good fit, you wish him best of luck.   Any reasonable, sane man will accept this and if one doesn’t then he’s clearly an idiot and not worth any more of your time.   Unfortunately, as payment for your good deeds, you will probably have to suffer through some abusive responses 😛 which you will then have to ignore.   Even at the risk of this abuse, I still think it is the right thing to do to acknowledge those who take the time to send you something nice.   There’s no other way to encourage them to keep doing this and making the world better one person at a time 😀 😀

    1. 18.1

      I’m with Skaramouche.   If there was no evidence a guy had read my profile I just deleted his message.   If he wrote something thoughful, but I wasn’t feeling it, I wrote back a thanks and best wishes.   Sometimes it provoked a “F__ing B_tch” response at which point I blocked him.   Most of the messages I got each day _weren’t_ thoughtful, so I was willing to take a few minutes to check out profiles and respond when they were.

      On the other hand, if I wrote to a guy first and he just didn’t respond, I wasn’t hurt by the silence, ’cause I didn’t go back and try to track the messages I’d sent.   If an interesting man wrote back, great; if not it was quickly forgotten.

  19. 19

    When I was dating online, I had much the same experience Evan describes. You try to be nice, but… Just a lot of emotional energy expended only to raise their ire. Only once was I glad that I responded to a “nice” request for a date. From his profile, I could absolutely tell that we had nothing in common. In fact, his lifestyle choices were the antithesis of mine. When I tried to simply say thanks but no thanks, I was met with an couple of attacks that disturbed me because of his background in the military, his creepy, dark-bedroom, up-close screenshot with vacant stare, etc. So, I blocked him. Fast-forward a couple of years, I buy a house, make friends down the street, and they invite me to a party at our neighbor’s house. When I walk in, I recognize the owner of the house from his profile picture, because it’s an image and a perception of threat that stuck with me. I’ve now lived several doors down from this man for nearly four years, and I’ve come to learn that every one of my negative assumptions about him was right. I don’t fear for my safety when I wave a neighborly hello, but I certainly avoid being alone with him. He doesn’t remember me, but I remember that he’s the kind of guy who attacks women online. Had I not responded, I might just think of him as my harmless, meathead neighbor.

  20. 20

    As a guy, I hate to say that I also have received some dating site messages from some women that I have had to just ignore.   I feel bad when I do that, because I know how stressful it can be to send out the opening message.   I would always check out their profiles first, and if I saw anything that I felt was a red flag I would just ignore their message.   I have had  a couple of  women that got so pushy they demanded my phone number to talk  even though I was not really interested in them.

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