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Dating & rejection- how clear is your conscience?

If you’re in the dating game, there’s a good chance that at some point you are going to be faced with rejection – either as someone doing the rejection, or being rejected. But often the angst is not caused by the other person no longer wishing to continue dating but by the way in which they communicate this, or not.

So is there a right, or wrong way when it comes to rejecting someone? Arguably, yes. Given that we are all adults working in a professional environment, surely we are not ignorant to social etiquette? Or inept of exercising common (sense and) courtesy by treating someone with sensitivity & respect? But yet, many fail to do this.

Probably the biggest culprit is the person that actually avoids 'rejecting' the other person. Rather than explain that they do not want to see you anymore, they cut off all communication by ignoring phone calls, emails & text messages. Why? Either to avoid confrontation, or because they were simply not that interested in the first place. Some even go as far as convincing themselves that no action is required on their part thereby ignoring the situation all together. Whatever the reason, it's a cop out and unjust to the other person, who is left frustrated, anxious and in limbo not knowing what is going on and more importantly, why.

Then there's the text message rejecter. After avoiding communication outright, this has got to be the next most unkind way of 'rejecting' someone. By its very nature, text messages are used to communicate short notes. Realistically, how much information can you put in a text? Given that you have met someone face-to-face, it's an impersonal and disrespectful approach. And potentially, it can leave that person feeling unworthy and hurt because there was no conversation involved.

Next up is the email rejecter. If you've only been on one or two dates, telling the other person that you no longer want to see them over email is just about acceptable, providing you explain why. But after this point, it's impolite and verging on cowardice. If someone has invested their time in seeing you, considering how busy lifestyles are these days, you owe them at least a conversation despite how uncomfortable it may be. For them it may spell the difference between moving on quickly by having the opportunity to ask questions, compared to spending time analysing your email, contemplating whether to reply and if so, what to say.

If you've been on between three to five dates then rejecting someone by phone is ok. After all, you're not in a serious relationship and you're still willing to have an open dialogue. Usually, after six dates you know whether you want to pursue something more committed and serious. Once you cross this threshold, phone rejection is simply not acceptable. You should be acting with integrity and be prepared to reject that person face-to-face despite the fallout that may ensue. By denying somebody this, you're being selfish and slowing down their 'getting over you' process. They will probably start questioning the genuineness of the relationship, the sincerity of your feelings and the level of respect that you had for them, if you could not even be bothered to meet them after all that has been shared.

Understandably, there is no point in dating, or being in a relationship if it is not working. In these situations, ‘rejection’ is inevitable. But generally speaking, when people are 'rejected' regardless of the number of dates that they have been on, many need closure. This involves a chance to ask questions and understand why things could not continue. More often than not, being denied this opportunity will hinder them from moving on quickly as they ponder on the questions in their mind, for which they will often never know the answers too.

Yes, it may be an uncomfortable experience for the person doing the rejection - so the temptation to take the easy way out is appealing – but it’s an unkind and inconsiderate act. Just for a moment, put yourself in the other person's shoes. Is this the way you would like someone to behave towards you? By being sensitive to that person's feelings and explaining clearly why you do not want to date them is a much better approach. You avoid giving this person a complex and perhaps your tactful feedback (yes dating is a learning process) can also help them in future dating situations and relationships. You can also walk away with a clear conscience knowing that you did the right thing, despite how challenging it may have been. And after all, they do say 'what goes around comes around...'

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