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

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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.

Odalis

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.

Sincerely,

Odalis

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…

Bill

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.

Yours,

Odalis

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!

Bill

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.

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  1. 21
    Odalis

    Evan, you’re amazing! I had submitted this question months ago and had no idea that you had replied. I just goggled the topic and found this link. Some search results appeared before yours, but none of those answers were as thorough.

    Most often I received a thank you reply, wishing me well also. I’ve only had a couple of men challenge me along the lines you described. I wish I would have read your Homeless Man analogy sooner. Also, I recently heard psychologist Ken Page say that it’s best to ignore someone because explaining why you’re not a match is just hurtful. From now on, I’ll wish them well in my heart. Thanks again, Evan. You  da man!

    Your friend,

    Odalis

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