If you are dating in 2017, you know that this is a very real issue because you are always “dating” people you barely know. Just last night, this writer had a text fight with a guy she’s never even seen in person. True story. So, while the rules change faster than we can rewrite them, what is the protocol for “breaking up” with someone you hardly know, without being a jerk in the process? It’s tricky, but here’s our best advice for each specific circumstance you might encounter while on the market.
This is a very odd, dating-app-specific experience. We've found that some guys don't seem to want to go off-app...ever. If a guy just wants to be your pen pal and you're not feeling it, you can end things simply by saying, "Do you want to get coffee next week?" This will ensure things move offline. If they don't want to meet up, you can always try something like, "I'm trying to spend less time on my phone, so unless you want to meet me in person do you mind if we stop texting?" In this scenario, however, it's also kinda fine to ghost. You've never met them—why don't they phone a friend if they just want to chat?!
You don't owe some big explanation to someone you've only ever dated once. Sure, the most mature thing to do is to call them up and say you didn't feel "that spark" with them, but you think they're great and don't want to waste their time. But, technically, you could also just put off having a second date until the point at which they get the message—we won't judge.
We're all guilty of this on occasion—giving a second or even third date to someone we knew we weren't interested in after date number one. It's a bit of a jerk move, so in this scenario you owe the person the mature conversation that we let you opt out of on the previous slide. We have a friend who does this with every guy she rejects, and they always remain friendly with her. It may sound painful, but it's over in five minutes and—though we know this may be hard for your ego to hear—oftentimes they feel the same way.
Traditional thinking has it that only women get attached after intimacy, but this isn't always the case. If you had a few too many and woke up on the wrong side of a good decision, you may want to respect the person with whom you shared the experience by having a conversation, making it clear that your judgment was clouded and that you do not necessarily see the "relationship" moving forward at the pace that's now been set, if at all.
Unless you think this person is in love with you, you do not have to formally dump this person. In this scenario, we've found that the phase-out works best for both parties. There's an implicit agreement in this kind of setup that the situation is neither serious nor permanent, which means it can cease to exist at any time without either person being a jerk in the process.
No ghosting, no excuses. Our new rule in dating (after having had more than a few men disappear on us) hearkens back to the biggest lesson we learned as kids: "Treat others as you wish to be treated." We may live on our phones, but we're all still human beings and deserve to be treated as such. If you've been seeing someone for more than a few weeks, you owe them a face-to-face closure convo.