When you’re getting ready for a first date, you’re likely to feel butterflies, unless you’re a dating aficionado. If you met on a dating app, you’ll probably be nervous and hoping the person you meet likes you and you come across well. It’s exciting, but also a nightmare.
And then there’s the chance that you won’t fancy them, which is a totally different matter.
Erika Ettin, a relationship expert and founder of dating site A Little Nudge, told Business Insider there’s no substitute for chemistry, and you should try and get to a date within a week of matching. Too many people leave it too long, and the desire to meet fizzles out, she said.
It also means you can work out if you feel a spark together fairly early on. That way you don’t feel like you’ve wasted that much time, and you can move on.
But it is incredibly awkward when you arrive on a first date and you realise there’s just no attraction. It’s even worse when you think they might actually fancy you but it isn’t reciprocal. Ettin said even if this happens, you should remind yourself you’re sitting with another human being.
„Some people treat people they meet online as lesser, but they’re still people, and it’s important to remember that,” she said. „Too many people cancel at the last minute, are flaky, are late. Just remember that the other person has feelings too. At the end of the day it’s still real people who are still making the time to meet you.”
Also, just because you don’t feel anything, it doesn’t mean the whole date has to be a waste.
„I can’t encourage highly enough, if you’re already there, to try to make the most of it,” Ettin said. „Too many people just tune out at that point. You’ve both made the effort to be there so see what else you can get out of it.”
You might learn something from each other, make a business connection, or even become friends. Maybe you realise you could set them up with one of your single friends, or vice versa. Whatever it is, don’t mentally check out.
„Don’t kind of exit the date but still sit there,” Ettin said. „You’re making the experience worse for both of you if you don’t even try to engage.”
Honesty is the best policy
Ultimately, it’s best to be honest if you’re just not feeling it. This is easier when it’s obvious neither of you are attracted to the other. But it’s still not ideal to blurt it out in the first five minutes.
If someone makes themselves vulnerable to you and asks you out again, that’s when you have to be upfront about how you feel.
„I recommend something like, ‚thanks again for the drinks, but I just didn’t feel the spark I was looking for,'” Ettin said. „I just didn’t feel a connection romantically, but all the best. Tactful and honest.”
Ghosting is the absolute worst thing you can do. That’s where you stop responding to texts and calls, and the other person effectively thinks you’ve vanished into thin air.
„You think you’re sparing someone’s feelings but really all you’re sparing is yourself from having an awkward conversation,” Ettin said. „It doesn’t have to be awkward at all. Someone can be disappointed you don’t feel it, but they’re not going to be angry at you for having feelings, or not having feelings — as long as you’re nice about it.”
Ghosting is a cowardly move, and it often happens when the end of the date is open to interpretation. So don’t allow any ambiguity. If you feel the spark, say so. If you don’t, then it’s fine to make that clear too.