Dear Aleeza,

Last night I went out with a guy who is not for me. He is too talkative, lacked warmth and we didn’t have much in common. Overall I can tell he is a good and pleasant person, but he isn’t what I’m looking for. I told him that he isn’t a match for me. He texted me later asking what he could do better in the future. He’s a growth-oriented person and wants to know if there is anything in particular he needs to work on. Here are my questions:

  1. Is it appropriate for me to be honest and tell him why he isn’t for me? If yes, how should I reply?
  2. What are things people should try to improve on after having a series of unsuccessful dates and what things should be left alone?
  3. Should I ask him if there is anything I can improve on? I wonder if it’s only fair to let him give me feedback too.

Sincerely,

Not for me

Dear Not for me,

I like that you articulated why he isn’t for you. You gave a few specific reasons that identify differences between the two of you that make you incompatible. One of the most important things you said was that you don’t have much in common. It sounds like you aren’t similar, yet you aren’t opposites either. You are just two different, good people who ended up on a date. While it’s nice to date a good person, it’s wise not to continue dating a good person with whom you don’t share a baseline of commonalities.

You asked three great questions. Let’s talk about them one at a time.

Q: Is it appropriate for me to be honest and tell him why he isn’t for me? I don’t mind that he asked, I just want to know if and how I should reply.

A: Let’s clarify. He asked if there was anything he could do better in the future when on a date. Telling him why he isn’t for you is specific to you, not him. He is asking a question relative to him.

Was there a flaw in his dating technique? You mentioned that he is a good guy and a pleasant person but just isn’t for you. Off the bat I’d say it’s not his technique that you aren’t drawn to; it’s his personality in addition to a lack of things in common that was not for you, not his character traits or social graces.

If you do want to share something, how you say it is crucial. After mentioning that it was nothing he did so he is aware that it’s not an inherent flaw but simply an incompatibility, you can share what you are looking for and why you honestly said no. Letting him know that you can see that you are both good people, just not compatible, confirms he has much to offer to a date.

As for your other reasons, you can share that you are looking for someone who you share more common interests and life goals. It’s always good to sandwich information that isn’t so nice to hear with pleasant comments. So start off by saying you two are good people, just not compatible. Move on to the specifics of why and end with a reminder that although you two weren’t the right fit you know he’s a good guy. Giving over information in this way isn’t only good for him to hear -- it’s the right way to develop good habits of speech.

Q: What are things people should try to improve on after having a series of unsuccessful dates and what things should be left alone?

A: The number one thing to improve is who you choose to date. I’m of the philosophy that we are all works in progress. Over the course of time people grow and change, both naturally and with great effort. If there is one thing you can count on, it’s that you won’t be the same person 10 years from now. If you personally see a major flaw or several people you know and trust tell you there is something big you need to work on, work on it. If you’ve had a series of unsuccessful dates, I’d prefer you look at who you are choosing to date first and then afterwards see if you need to make an improvement. See if you are choosing the right type of person to match who you are today. If you are dating people who don’t match who you are today, it doesn't matter in what ways and how much you improve -- you still won't match.

Q: Should I ask him if there is anything I can improve on? I wonder if it’s only fair to let him give me feedback too.

Do you really want to hear his suggestions? Do you trust his advice? If you think you will value his input, then it may be worth asking. However, you risk dragging on a post-date conversation which may not be healthy. Sometimes it’s best to be short, sweet and cut contact with dates that didn’t work out. This is not a matter of being fair.

May your inner wisdom guide you and may you have the right words at the right time.

Dear readers, I'd love to hear your opinion. Has this ever happened to you? How would you reply if you received a question like this?