How to reject tactfully after a first date


Don't you hate it when he says he'll call, but never does? Or maybe you're guilty of just fading away after one date. Stefan Springman, host of VH1's Can't Get A Date, explains the real rules of rejection, and how it ought to be done.

How to reject tactfully after a first date

Stefan believes (and rather bluntly states):

  • Men get rejected more than women do because they do most of the asking out--and get turned down a lot. Dating is a 'cruel sorting process,' everybody’s looking for the best deal they can get. It’s a marketplace. If you think you’re worth more than someone else thinks, it hurts your ego.
  • Should a woman who is rejecting a guy put him off politely with a little white lie, like, 'Sorry, I'm busy?' No, don't put them off. They'll just call again. If you're not interested find a way to tell them that, such as, 'You're a great person but just not my type.' Put an end to it.
  • Men are not good at honestly and politely rejecting a woman. They tend to just fade away. It's not fair, it's not nice, but it's the easy way out.
  • If you've had more than a date or two, however, that's just not acceptable. You are owed a further explanation.
  • If you call him, and he doesn't return the first call, he's not interested. If you call again and he does return that call, odds are pretty good he's interested in something you're not, i.e., easy sex.
  • There's nothing fair about dating. It's a terrible and awkward thing, but it's also glorious.

LISA: I'm Lisa Birnbach for howdini. We all know the search for romance is tough. You meet, he doesn't like you, you don't like him. Maybe there's someone else. He says he'll call, then he doesn't call. What was he thinking? Let's ask Stefan Springman, creator and host of the hit VH1 show Can't Get a Date. I'd like to know about rejection. I really would. Who rejects whom more--you or us?

STEFAN: Men versus women? 

LISA: Yes. 

STEFAN:  It's really the man's job to get rejected. That's one of the most difficult things about dating. You put yourself on the line like that and take someone's opinion about your self worth.

LISA: It's funny that you may not like him or her, but you want them to like you enough so that why--so your ego is protected. Is that it?

STEFAN: Well sure. It's like dating is a cruel sorting process. Everybody's looking for sort of the best deal they can get. It's really a marketplace right? And if someone is telling you that you're not worth as much as they are, it hurts no matter who that is.

LISA: Don't you think that women are very conscientious about not being hurtful when we're rejected somebody? I mean we've perfected the little white lies of I'm busy, or I already had plans, or--

STEFAN:  Well if you tell somebody you're busy that means they're going to keep thinking about you and they're going to come to you two weeks later, three weeks later--

LISA: Okay, I'm busy, oh gosh my, um--

STEFAN:  You're just putting them off!

LISA: Putting them off--okay good point. How about I've met somebody else?

STEFAN:  Sure, if you're not interested in the person, you don't want to tell them the truth. You don't want to tell them that they're a loser or creep. Alright, because they're still a human being.

LISA: They may not be a loser or a creep. It may be a very nice guy for whom you feel no affinity. 

STEFAN:  Exactly. So I'd pretend to be Audrey Hepburn and I tell them what an awesome person they were, but that they're not your type. That way you put an end to it.

LISA: How about, but I have a friend I'd like to introduce you to. 

STEFAN: That's a great one. 

LISA: The two of you would get along really well. 

STEFAN:  Sure why not?

LISA: What about men rejecting us? Do you think you do a good job as a species, as a gender?

STEFAN:  Men are terrible at rejecting women because they don't really get put in a position all that often. Not that many women ask men out. And when they do, the men tend to not know how to do it. 

LISA: Uh, well--

STEFAN:  The general rule is just fade away.

LISA: No I think the right thing to say--something. Not I'm not interested in you, because that would really hurt,  but what about it's a bad time, I'm not really ready for a relationship. It's been great knowing you, but I'm going to fade away.

STEFAN:  Does that hurt less than just fading away?

LISA: Well the problem with fading away is there isn't closure and nobody really knows what happened. 

STEFAN:  What you're saying is that you should tell somebody when you're no longer interested in them.

LISA: Right. 

STEFAN: But that's not how it works in the real world. People, when they're no longer interested in them, they don't return a phone call, they just tend to fade away. If you call somebody and he doesn't return your call one time, that means he's not interested. If you call him again after that and he returns your call, he may be interested in something that you are not interested in. For example, he may think oh well I'll just go for easy sex with this woman, which is not something you're looking for. 

LISA: Why do men say they'll call who have no intention of calling? 

STEFAN:  Because it's easy. It's the easy way out.

LISA: I just think it's unfair. 

STEFAN:  It's terribly unfair--

LISA: I mean yeah.

STEFAN:  There's nothing fair about dating. It's a terrible and awkward thing, but it's also glorious.

LISA: Women, when we reject a man and I'm not necessarily talking about to go on a date, but it may be after we've been dating somebody for a few weeks and we decide this isn't working, this isn't going anywhere, our values are too different, whatever--we generally try in the kindest way possible, often with a little white lie or fabrication, to make it easier on his ego. To let him know this isn't going anywhere. Men just disappear and leave us hanging and we don't know what we did right or wrong. We don't have an exit interview. 

STEFAN:  If you've been seeing somebody for a while, you shouldn't just disappear--let me make that clear. Disappearing is when you're first starting to court. Maybe you get somebody's phone number and you call them up and they don't return the call. Their not returning the call is sufficient to saying they're not interested. If you've been seeing this person for a couple of weeks, you're owed a bit of an explanation. You know you need to figure out how to do it in a nice way. Or just tell them what a great person that they are, but they're just--I'm not your type. Because how can you argue with that? But you're definitely putting an end to it. 

LISA: Right, okay. Very good. For howdini I'm Lisa Birnbach. 

meet theexpert
  • Stefan Springman

    Stefan Springman Creator and Host, 'Can't Get A Date' on VH1 Stefan Springman has been dating for his entire adult life. After years of witnessing how much difficulty his friends and colleagues had in the dating arena, he began to develop an approach for both men and women. more about this expert »

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