Letting down gently: 5 important things to consider when you don't want to keep dating - Christian Connection dating advice

Letting down gently: 5 important things to consider when you don’t want to keep dating

Sometimes when dating, you just know someone isn’t right for you for the long term and letting down gently is the next step. You find your conversations going through the same small talk – again; you seem to be too different in key areas; practically it won’t work; the timing isn’t right, or that all-important growing connection just isn’t there. However, if you decide not to pursue a relationship, it is healthy to give someone closure, to finish well and be honourable in your actions. How can you do that safely and well?

Most of us know how frustrating it is to be on the other end of that awkward situation when you like someone but are doing all of the chasing. Or spending time over a tub of ice cream / glass of wine wondering to friends where you stand. It’s exhausting, draining and frankly quite damaging to mental health and wellbeing, spending valuable hours dwelling on someone who is not showing similar interest or being clear about where they stand. If we were all honest and open about our feelings, then a lot of anxiety inducing moments would dissipate!

Practically, how can we show someone we’re not interested in them, letting down gently whilst maintaining boundaries for ourselves, and protecting the other party’s heart too?

Be kind

Letting down gently: 5 important things to consider when you don't want to keep dating - Christian Connection dating adviceBut also clear and direct. The kind thing to do is to say that something isn’t going to go any further, before emotions and the heart get too involved. It’s kind too to ensure that what you say isn’t open-ended, but gives closure, meaning that you can both move on. Sometimes it’s hard to speak the truth in these situations, but if you try and soften it unrealistically and make it easier for yourself, it will make it harder for everyone in the long run.

Don’t say “I’d love to hear from you in the future” or “Let’s be friends” to soften the pain if you have no intention of following that through. Have clear boundaries that you want kept and don’t leave an open door to hope if you really don’t see it going anywhere.

Nevertheless, the wording that you use does need to be sensitive to the other person’s feelings, so try to imagine yourself in their shoes so that you can treat them how you would like to be treated in these situations – with kindness and respect. This means you are more honourable and godly in your actions.

Don’t Ghost

Lack of contact can be agonising for the other party. If they like you – just as if the situation was reversed – they will second guess everything, worry about what’s happening, may continue contacting you (much to your annoyance), and keep holding on, just in case. This is not fair.

If you think just disappearing and ignoring is the easier option, think again. This does not honour the other person and can be negative for you. We can’t just hide our heads in the sand and hope these situations will go away, we have to be courageous and have the difficult conversations in order for both people to move on. This shows maturity and is healthy for both parties.

Unless you feel concerned for your safety, let them know things aren’t going to develop.

Be Timely

If you don’t see a lasting relationship developing, don’t let the other party chase you and don’t leave them hanging. Stringing them along ‘just in case’ is not fair on them. If you can’t see it going anywhere, then tell them as soon as you can. The longer you leave it, the more likely that chasing will be involved as they wonder what’s changed.

Letting down gently: 5 important things to consider when you don't want to keep dating - Christian Connection dating adviceDon’t continue with occasional messages as a strategy to maintain someone’s interest – now known as ‘breadcrumbing’! If you want it to end, after explaining your feelings, don’t continue to message as if nothing has changed.

Dropping back into someone’s life and continuing to message unexpectedly sends mixed signals. In the past, I have chased someone I liked, and found this behaviour hard. If someone’s not keen but still sends the odd text just to have a hold on you still, this isn’t kind behaviour or something to indulge.

Ultimately, it means you can’t move on or you’re stopping someone else do the same. Instead nip this behaviour in the bud sooner rather than later.

It’s worth considering a suitable time to communicate about ending things as well – you don’t want to interrupt a busy work day or do it late at night, but try and be considerate in your timings. Part of letting down gently could be giving time for the other person to seek support from a friend.

Be honourable about friendship – or not

Don’t ‘friendzone’ the other party if they’re keen. The last thing someone wants to hear if they’re keen on a developing romance is: “but let’s stay friends”. If you genuinely have no interest in gaining more friends, then don’t suggest this.

Also, if the other party is flirting and trying to get your attention to move things on, using words that friendzone them isn’t honourable and will cause some embarrassment. Instead be clear in your intentions and help them to realise that it just isn’t going to work romantically.

Be gentle but firm

A healthy way of letting down gently if you’re not interested is to show the fruits of the Spirit when doing it – with gentleness, kindness, with patience, self-control and Godly love. You can be firm with your boundaries whilst being gentle.

You don’t need just to give an abrupt text – you can choose your words wisely in an appropriate way. A phone call sometimes helps if you’re in the early stage of dating and don’t want to say it in a face to face scenario. Think before you speak, work out what you want to say to make sure that the wrong idea isn’t grabbed onto.

If you both genuinely like each other and can see something developing, then there should be an ease to getting to know each other, a desire to be in contact, a delight in speaking to each other and sharing your day, not having to chase or play mind games. If unfortunately this doesn’t happen, always try and put yourself in the other person’s shoes to make sure you treat others how you would want to be treated – you will be beyond reproach and godly in your actions in that way.

What do you find helpful when letting down gently?

Did you find ‘Letting down gently: 5 important things to consider when telling someone you don’t want to keep dating’ useful? You might like ‘5 steps for dealing with rejection‘ and ‘How to overcome the fear of rejection‘ 

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