Silence is a virtue and if you don't know how to respond to a Tinder message, sometimes, saying nothing is your best bet. But if you genuinely feel like you need to message someone whom you are not interested in — because you don't want to hurt their feelings, you don't want to confuse them, or simply because your mother raised you that way — then you might find yourself at a loss for words. It happens to the best of us.
When a conversation goes awkwardly and you need to find an appropriate way to make a graceful exit, then you'll want to be both firm and polite. This is more in consideration of your feelings about yourself than it is about your match's. Fortunately, dating apps put an added layer of anonymity between you and the person you are talking with.
Unlike having to turn someone down in a crowded bar, you really don't have to physically deal with the consequences of turning someone away. In extreme cases, you can unmatch them before they even get a chance to respond. But unless someone has done something really offensive, being mean or rude is generally just a waste of energy. It's also a good way to end up getting reported, and nobody wants that. So instead, it's better to keep things cordial if you can.
When someone says something that leaves you feeling like you have nothing to say, or if you've been chatting for a while, but you just don't see things going anywhere, keep your response simple and clean. You can simply say, "It sounds like we are looking for different things. Good luck!" Chances are, they will get the pretty obvious message, and you'll be free to keep on swiping.
Unfortunately, sometimes, you may encounter people who push the envelope a bit. They want to know why you're not interested — whether it's wanting to know if it was something they have said or wanting to know what changed in the course of the conversation. In my own experience, it's usually nothing that I can define. I can just tell that we don't have that much to talk about, and I am not interested in meeting up with them.
You don't owe your time to anyone, nor should you feel obligated to explain in great detail why you just aren't that into someone you matched with on Tinder. Only someone who feels entitled to your body, mind, and/or time wouldn't understand what "we are looking for different things" means and subsequently leave you alone.
And no one you'd actually want to date would expect you to give up something that you want for them. That's why, if you tell somebody that you both are looking for different things, and they still proceed to push the issue, you can stand firm in your decision. You did them a favor by being honest with them and telling them what's up. A lot of people have unmatched or just never responded to me, because what's the obligation when you haven't even really met yet?
If you take it upon yourself to respond that you are not interested, that means that you are really special and approach online dating differently than most people. So remember, keep it short, straightforward, and polite. Pretty soon, I bet you'll find someone else who is as considerate a date as you are. Maybe they will even be on Tinder.
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