Much has been written about how to handle rejection. Being rejected on the Internet can be just as painful as being rejected in real life. Remember this, because this post is actually not about handling rejection, but about doing the rejecting.
I got a press release the other day from MySingleFriend.com, a popular UK site with an abundance of attractive women (and men) who undoubtedly get contacted rather a lot. As part of recent improvemebts made to the site, MySingleFriend added a feature that allows their members to send set rejection messages when it’s necessary to say “thanks, but no thanks”.
The fact that the recent features were added as a result of member feedback shows that saying “no” online is difficult. Hiding behind a set message can make the whole thing more painless for the person saying no, although possibly not for the other person, who’d be denied of even a personal message. At least the new feature takes the sting out of waiting for a reply and not knowing whether you are being ignored.
But not all sites offer a diplomatic way out for the members. Usually, you’re on your own and wondering what to do.
You could choose to ignore them. This is a common method, although not a particularly nice one. If you’re very popular and get a high number of messages, though, it could take all day to answer messages from people you’re not into, leaving you no time to talk to those you like.
So how do you handle it? As a rule, it’s cool to ignore winks, single word or single sentence messages, but if someone has taken the time to write a nice, longer message, it won’t hurt to say a few words in return.
I’ve seen some people put a message on the profile saying they get a lot of responses and may not reply, thinking this would cover them when they ignore people. This one’s bad. You’re likely not to get anyone contacting you at all, or at the very least put off a significant amount of people. Anyone who’s event slightly insecure (read – 99% of people) would think the competition is too high and leave you be. Do yourself a favour and forget this method.
Remember that you are under no obligation to explain yourself and you shouldn’t resort to telling people why you’re not interested, unless they were rude to you or have profiles that are rude or offensive (in which case, all bets are off. If someone is being racist, chauvinistic or rude, it’s only fair to let them know you find such behaviour offensive).
The best way to let nice people down gently is to simply thank them for the message (and compliments if they gave any), say you’re sorry but they are not what you’re looking for and wish them good luck in their search.
Be polite but firm. No “You’re not what I’m looking for at the moment ” as this implies you might change your mind later. Yes, it’s not a pleasant thing to say, but it’s best for everyone involved if no one’s labouring under any illusions.
Beware of entering into a conversation with the people you are rejecting if they reply to your rejection message, unless their response was so mindblowingly amazing you think you might reconsider. The conversation should end when you’ve said “not interested”. Any further replies would turn your “no” into a definite “maybe”.