If my experience with rejection had a title it would be "A History of Over-Personalization." A first date with no follow-up text? I must've done something wrong. A rejection letter from Harvard? I'm not special. An ex who doesn't live near me anymore gets a new girlfriend? I'm unlovable! I'm an expert at both self-flagellation and drama, and this wild sensitivity to rejection makes me particularly fearful of being the rejector. As a firm believer that stringing someone along is far more cruel than ending things concretely, I propose we all at least send a text to end a relationship next time we want to fade away.
I've recently been going on a ridiculous number of dates: 51 to be exact, for a podcast and to generally change my perspective on dating and rejection. Each time someone asks me if I've learned anything so far (I'm on date 17) I pretty much scream, "YES!" I have finally started to zoom out from myself and realize that when things don't work out, it doesn't automatically mean that I am "not enough." in the grand scheme of things. Some people don't like me, while other people might. The same way I like some people, while other perfectly successful and hot people are not for me.
With that said, when it actually happens, rejection is almost impossible not to take personally — at least for a minute (or a week... or a year). Because this awful feeling is universal, the most important aspect of an "it's over" text is that it is empathetic. There's no need to get overly personal or make someone feel less than when you're letting them down. Here are four kind but clear texts to send that person you've been "seeing" when you're ready to move on.
1. "I think you're great, but I'm just not sure if what we are doing is a fit for me right now."
Yes, this sounds like every f*ckboy's go-to line, but when you actually mean it, and don't follow up with a "you up?" text later that night, this is an honest response that keeps the person from feeling like they weren't enough for you. If the person you've been seeing asks for me detail, elaborate for them. That's the kind thing to do. You don't need to say, "I don't like your personality," but you can simply say, "I'm looking for something a bit different right now."
2. "You're wonderful, and I had so much fun with you, but there's someone in my life I need to sort things out with. I'm sorry for only realizing that now."
Ideally you actually do have someone in your life you are developing feelings for, or still have feelings for, if you are using this line. In my past, the times people I've dated were honest about their feelings for someone else, I was actually less hurt than had they just said "I didn't feel the sparks." We all know what it's like to suddenly catch feels for someone else, or be hung up on an ex who waltzes back into our life, so somehow knowing there's someone else is a bit less personal. (Just don't go Googling her!)
3. "I really like hooking up with you, but I feel like I'm not treating you fairly because I'm dating other people."
If you are trying to let someone down easy who you genuinely enjoy spending time with, throw them a compliment, but take responsibility for your inability to commit. That said, your hookup could try to pull an "I'm dating other people too, don't worry" so be prepared for that, and hold your ground. Call yourself out by saying, "It just makes me feel guilty, and I don't want to hurt you." Whatever you do, just keep things as honest as possible.
4. "You're great, but I think we want different things from this connection, and I don't want to take up any more of your time in a selfish way."
Another simple, straightforward, and completely honest way to say "no thank you." Honesty is truly sexy, and the person you are letting down will undoubtedly appreciate your candor. There's no onus on you to like someone who like you back, so don't be afraid to be direct.
One last important thought: IF YOU SEND ANY OF THE ABOVE TEXTS, YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO GET DRUNK AND TEXT THE PERSON YOU LET FREE! That's just a mindf*ck, and is an actual selfish thing to do. Go swipe on dating apps instead. Whatever you text, make sure it's a text you would like to receive if someone was letting you down gently. Good luck!