If you think I’m championing rejecting people, you’re wrong. On the other hand, if you think I’m advocating for people who receive messages they don’t know how to answer, you’re right. (And if you think I’m a hero, you’re right again.) Listen, everyone has a different style when it comes to chatting with a match. But the way to deal with that is not, I repeat not, to ghost. Instead, you can make an effort to be a good person and also throw some nuggets of wisdom to people who clearly have no idea that what they’re doing is wrong. No matter the situation, here’s how to reject someone without being a lil’ meanie. 

When they prematurely ask for your number

I personally don’t like giving out my number right off the bat, because it opens up a direct, very personal, line of communication. Unlike in-app messaging, it makes me feel like I need to answer, stat. So when this comes up, I respond:

I usually don’t give out my number to people until after we decide to go out. Cool if we chat here a little bit more? 😇

Usually this is met with a “totally cool!” followed by some questions about me or my profile. Sometimes, it’s met with a “hmm OK”, which is fine — it lets you know to weed out this person, because they don’t respect your privacy and generally suck. 

When they ask you out and you’re not feeling it

It’s very awkward when someone thinks you’re *vibing*, and and there’s no way in hell your conversation got even close to a *vibe*. And while turning people down is hard, it’s not worth squandering your youth, m’kay? Throw out a: 

I don’t want to waste your time or my own, so I want to be upfront and truthful. I’m not really feeling a vibe from our conversation, and don’t think we should meet. Hope you understand 🙂

Most people will appreciate your honesty and the fact you didn’t waste a second of their precious time on this earth. Others may not take it so gracefully, in which case, congrats, you just got rid of someone who can’t handle being told “no” (see: a very bad trait).

When they ask for your Instagram or Snapchat

Ugh times 75. I’ve said this many a time, and you’re probably sick of hearing it, but I don’t care! If you wanted people to have your social handles, you would include them in your profile. Coming in hot and straight-up asking is weird and creepy, and you shouldn’t feel like you need to share these details. When someone wants my IG (that happens to include my last name AND I actively choose not to share on my profile), I hit them with: 

Unfortunately, I’m not an influencer so I’m definitely not worth the follow 😉[insert relevant question to change the subject]

If they keep pressing, it’s totally appropriate to get serious and say that you’re not comfortable giving them personal information — or even to unmatch them.

When they ask you out after one “hey”

Some people may like taking it off the app ASAP and that’s cool — live your life, etc. But personally, I like to establish a little rapport with someone before getting together IRL:

Whoa, I haven’t even gotten to know what things you hate yet. Tell me your top three and then we can go from there 🕺

This is a great way to defer the fact that they hit you with the most boring opener of all time and tried to segue it into a date. Hopefully they play into your fun question, and behold: a witty back-and-forth.

When they seem to be looking for something totally different

Maybe they want you to come over for a Hulu and hang sesh (is that a thing? If not, I’m trademarking it) and you’re more of the get-drinks-on-the-first-date type. You’re definitely down to meet up with them but not in the capacity they are. When you’re not on the same wavelength, try:

Sounds fun! I’d actually prefer to go out and grab a drink or something. I know a fun place called [insert fun place]. Thoughts?

Smooth. You’re getting your way while still letting them know you’re interested. 

When they ask you overly personal questions

Your messaging buddy doesn’t necessarily mean any harm — people sometimes word vomit when they feel awkward and nervous. They also might be an open book and down to skip the small talk and get to know you, which is…cute. But when someone asks me why my last five relationships didn’t work out, it’s a little jarring. I like to try my hand at a little flirtiness:

Ah, I plead the fifth 😬Really nice you wanna get to know me, but how about I tell you all my secrets on the fifth or sixth date?

Either they’ll back off or they’ll keep nagging, and you can suss out how good or evil they are from which path they choose.

When you realize you aren’t actually in the right place to date

Oof, been there! This is tough, because being on Tinder does kind of send the message that you are ready. However, we are humans with complex emotions, and sometimes you don’t know you don’t want to do the thing until you’re already doing the thing. In that case, straight-up honesty is the best policy:

I’ve had fun chatting but to be transparent, I just got out of a/am still not over my last relationship. I thought I was ready to get back into dating, but I’m realizing now that I’m not. I’m sorry and hope I didn’t waste your time or lead you on in any way. If/when I am ready and the timing is right, I hope it’s cool if I reach out. 

Literally no one wants to enter into something with someone who’s still hung up on an ex. You’re doing them — and yourself — a favor. Speak 👏your 👏truth 👏.