‘It’s Kinder To Say No To A Second Date’. Here’s Why

Early Dating

After going on a date, there is often the situation where one person is waiting to hear back and wanting a second date, while the other person doesn’t want to take it any further. Sadly, most people just ‘ghost ‘ and never reply. They may believe this is kinder than saying ‘I don’t like you’, but ignoring people is never kind. We need to get better at gently letting them know how we feel.  

Most of us have probably heard of the term ‘ghosting’, which is when someone we went on a date/ a few dates with, or were messaging and getting on with, suddenly ends all contact without giving a reason. 

This is often attributed to the fact that people are quite selfish, and don’t really care about the other person’s feelings. They’re happy just thinking about themselves and ending contact because that’s easiest for them, which sadly I think is true in a lot of cases. 

However, another reason behind this has been highlighted to me in a few different ways recently too, especially when we’re talking about Christian dating cultures. 

Ghosting Is Kinder, Right?

A friend of mine was telling me about her friend. She’s a Christian and is dating and hoping to find someone. She is only dating Christian men as she believes this should be an important part of the relationship. (Read Why does everyone tell me not to date a non-Christian?) 

Unfortunately, a few dates have ended with the guys not contacting her and/or not texting back. She would message them a few times, and eventually, some of them would reply but make up really bad excuses. 

They were bad excuses that just made her feel worse

‘I do like you, but I need to do XYZ, so we can’t date’. Or ‘I need to sort out my finances/relationship with God/things in my life’. Or ‘I shouldn’t really date right now’. She would wonder why they are on dating apps in the first place!

In other words, they were bad excuses that just made her feel worse.  

On the other hand, many of them just wouldn’t take responsibility for the situation, and just ignored it and didn’t acknowledge it. AKA ‘ghosting’.

Other friends have shared similar stories, which is upsetting. You would hope that Christians would be prepared to do it differently, yet it’s not always the case. 

It Causes More Hurt 

Dating is full of confusion, guesswork, and wondering ‘what if’, which it causes a lot of hurt. Dating well, dating differently, involves trying to reduce these feelings, not only ourselves but for the people we date. 

Sometimes, we can convince ourselves that saying to someone ‘I don’t want a second date with you’ seems harsh, so we make up bad excuses, or just ignore the problem. All of these things can actually leave people feeling hurt. 

Many people say to me things like ‘It would actually be better if they just let me know where they stood, rather than ignoring me or giving some rubbish reason. It’s so disrespectful.’ 

If we aren’t saying anything because it will be ‘awkward for me’, then that’s quite a selfish attitude. We’re not being kind, or loving our neighbour in a dating context, if we are just thinking about ‘my needs’. 

The kinder thing to do is to just say you don’t want to go on a second date. 

What To Say

Getting in touch to tell them that you don’t want a second date may indeed be a bit awkward for you. But it’s kinder to put their feelings first and push through the awkwardness, to let them know where you stand, so they avoid feeling confused and unsure.

We need to get better at just saying, ‘I don’t want a second date because I don’t think we’re a good match’.

Do not make it about them, or about you, just say that you don’t think you are suited

You don’t need to make up a bad excuse, you don’t need to go into detail (even if they ask why), you don’t need to point out their flaws, you just need to say you don’t think you are suited long-term. 

Do not make it about them, or about you, just say that you don’t think you’re suited. 

Easier Said Than Done 

I’m fully aware this is easier to say than do, because it’s counter-cultural, and it’s easier to ignore a problem than face it. But I think Christian dating should be different. (Read Can We Really Trust What Our Culture Says About Relationships?) 

We should be selfless, avoid hurting each other, and realise if we were in their position then we would want to know and be told. It is kinder and more respectful. 

Imagine If…

At least they were treated well and not just ignored

Imagine if we decided to date differently. If we remembered that the search for love is hard enough, without us making it harder for each other. (Read What Does Christian Dating Look Like?)

Imagine if we remembered that it’s better to let people know where we stand and got better at saying ‘I don’t want another date because we are not a match’. Even if they are disappointed, even if they have some unanswered questions, at least they were treated well and not just ignored. Everyone knows where they stand, and it will let us move on better and quicker.

Why are we so bad at letting people know where we stand? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 10/6/2019

How To Communicate Well When We’re Annoyed

Relationship Difficulties

In our friendships, dating relationships, marriages, and family, we will get annoyed. It may be about big things or seemingly small things. Looking back, we may think it was justified or a bit over the top. But communicating well while we’re annoyed is vital unless we want to do damage and weaken our relationships.

I often talk and write about the need for good communication. Building healthy relationships, romantic or otherwise, needs good communication. Without it, our annoyances can grow and cause frictions, tensions, and damage our relationships.

Awkward Conversations

One of my friends is training to be a vicar. He told me in passing that he did a module on ‘having awkward conversations’ with people.

I was a bit surprised at first. It did sound like a lesson anyone would want to sign up to. However, he rightly said, leading a church and leading people, challenging their behaviour, bringing reconciliation, managing expectation, hearing people’s confessions, is awkward. In some ways, his job will be a series of awkward conversations.

Communicating well is a good skill we all need to learn and work on

To some people talking about feeling and issues comes naturally, while others struggle with it. There are some people we can easily talk to but it’s difficult with other people. There are some people we don’t need to say much to because they’re just on the same wavelength as us.

But communicating well is a good skill we all need to learn and work on. Communicating badly can weaken our relationships.

Communicating Well

A lot could be said on this topic, but what are some of the things we should be avoiding? In that moment of annoyance, here are some very straightforward and practical suggestions. When we are having the awkward conversation:

  • Don’t say ‘you are’
  • Don’t bring up past issues
  • Don’t argue about other issues

Don’t Say ‘You Are’

This I think, is the most important piece of advice.

I recently had to sit down and have a potentially very awkward conversation with a friend. I felt like we had been clashing a bit the last few weeks and snapping at each other. It had upset me, and I thought I was upsetting her to.

I felt like this after you said that…’

When we began to talk about it, instead of saying ‘You did this…’ or ‘You are…’, I said things like ‘I felt like this after you said that…’ Or ‘From my perspective, I thought this was okay….’.

I did joke that it was a bit like couples therapy language (don’t know if that made it more or less awkward!).  But saying things like ‘It made me feel’, or ‘I perceived it as’ shifts the focus from an abstract right and wrong to relational dynamics.

Often, no one is fully to blame. Focusing on relational dynamics lets you talk about how you can relate different next time, and also will help you reach conclusions and answers quicker without offending each other.

We felt like we understood each other’s personalities more, and came up with phrases that will help us, moving forward, to communicate better before we get annoyed.

Being less accusing, and using more helpful language when communicating, helps build relationships.

Don’t Bring Up Past Issues

If you have forgiven them and reconciled, it’s unfair to open up old wounds

For example, if you are arguing about money issues with a married partner, you can’t bring up the fact that they spent too much on Christmas presents two years ago. Or if a friend has cancelled on you, you can’t bring up the fact they forgot your birthday four years ago.

If you have forgiven them and reconciled, it’s unfair to open up old wounds. (If there is a series of bad spending habits, or a friend is letting you down, then there is a wider conversation that needs to happen. Read We Disagree, Can Our Relationship Survive?)

If this is an issue that has caused a problem, we can’t bring up related, forgiven and ‘forgotten’ events, to use as ammo. It will become very personal and won’t help deal with the issue that is annoying us now.

Don’t Argue About Other Issues

This is similar to the last bit of advice, simply put, don’t bring up other issues.

If you’re arguing with your friend about the way they spoke to you, don’t then bring up the fact they never helped you when you need a favour.

Stick to what you’re arguing about

If you’re arguing with your wife or husband about what colour to use when decorating your hall (or as my friend said, her and her husbands have ‘discussions’ about it) don’t the bring up the friend who is a bad influence.

Stick to what you’re arguing about. Again, it avoids making it personal and it allows you to address one thing rather than argue about lots of things without a healthy conclusion.

Communicating Is Key

More could be said. There is a lot of advice that could be helpful, but in our annoyance we must avoid saying things that are filled with negative emotions. We all need to learn to communicate about why the issue is annoying us, otherwise not only will the issue stay unresolved, we could weaken our relationships. (Read After Your Arguments, You Don’t Walk Out.)

Imagine If…

Imagine if you had less arguments and relationship stresses and conflicts in your life.

The next time you get annoyed, don’t say ‘you are’, don’t bring up past issues, don’t argue about other issues.

What good bits of advice have you had for communicating well? Comments welcome below. 

Originally posted 8/3/2017

We Disagree, Can Our Relationship Survive?

Relationship Difficulties

Couples face decisions all the time. They need to learn to compromise, learn when it’s best not to get their own way, and learn when to insist. But when it’s a really big decision and you disagree completely, it can seem like there won’t be a conclusion. It’s time to test our assumptions, ask why it matters, and ask ‘Could I do that?’. 

Making romantic relationships stronger and more enjoyable does involve learning to communicate. Learning to discuss challenging issues and chat through problems is a vital skill to learn and make relationships thrive.

But there are times when you can have very opposing views.

What Should We Do? 

A guy was very recently asking me for some advice because he and his fiancée were having a big disagreement. One of them wanted to move into a deprived area and do voluntary community work with a local charity. The other wanted to serve God in other ways and not move there.

Finding out the other one totally disagreed, was very hard

It was tough for them. They both thought that they had heard so clearly from God, and then finding out the other one totally disagreed, was very hard and difficult to work through.

You may be able to relate to this. Or you may have had a big disagreement arise in another area of your relationship. Maybe to do with where to live, career, how to spend your money, etc. Something that is so huge it will have a big effect for many many years. But you disagree and wonder how to navigate and survive it.

It’s hard.

You disagree and wonder how to navigate and survive it

Obviously, each couple and each decision has its own nuances and complexities. I’m a big believer in saying a one-size-fits-all model doesn’t exist. Nothing is fool-proof for every couple. However, there are good general principles to help us.

If we don’t think about how to navigate through, or how to at least begin to approach these decisions, then we can keep going round in circles. Having the same discussions and arguments without making a decision.

What can Help Us? 

We can begin to approach the big decision by being prepared to:

  • Test Our Assumptions
  • Ask Why It Matters
  • Ask Could I Do That?

Test Our Assumptions

We can easily approach these talks thinking ‘I’m obviously right’. It can be a big decision and if we believe God’s spoken to us, and/or it makes the most sense, then we must be right, right? (Read Marriage Isn’t Really About ‘Us’)

You need to get underneath the assumptions

It will be helpful if we test our assumptions. You need to get underneath the assumptions and ask why you think you’re right. 

Why do you think you’ve heard this? Why do you think it makes sense? Thinking about the deeper beliefs can help both of you understand why you prefer a particular option. Rather than just sticking to our position because it seems so ‘obvious’.

Ask Why It Matters

Often a big decision, like which job to take, has an emotional appeal to it. We want a certain job because that’s what we’ve always wanted to do. Or it seems like it will best suit our ambitions.

This means there is an emotional connection to the decision.

This is normal and understandable. The problem is, there may be two or three other legitimate decisions as well. Our emotional connection may be why we favour a choice that seems ‘to make sense’ and not pick other options, even tough they’re just as good.

There is an emotional connection to the decision

Realising that this may be a factor is important.

Ask Could I Do That?

Getting your partner to follow through on your choice may be their worst nightmare. It may mean they need to do something they really don’t want to do. But you doing their choice may be okay, even if it’s not ideal.

This is important. Because thinking through each other’s choice, positively and negatively, will help you see what the best choice or compromise is for your relationship.

Is one option just too unthinkable for one of you?

You can’t just think through big picture surface level stuff, but the deeper impact and outworking of the decision. Is one option just too unthinkable for one of you?

These are just some bits of advice, and they won’t give you an answer. But they will help you think through the out-working of each decision to a deeper level, and avoid the ‘this way makes mores sense, why can’t you see it like I do’ frustrations.

Imagine if…

It would be great if there were never any disagreements or arguments, but real life isn’t like that. We need to learn to get through disagreements, big and small. The better we get through them, the better and more enjoyable relationships can become. (Read Unhealthy Relationship Expectations We Should All Know )

If there’s a big decision, and you feel like you’re having the same argument and can’t understand why they can’t see it like you do, stop and think:

  • Test Our Assumptions
  • Ask Why It Matters
  • Ask Could I Do That?

What advice would you give to a couple facing a big decision? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 28/12/2016

How To Have A Good Argument

Marriage, Relationship Difficulties

Many people think a good argument is about winning, but really it’s about sorting out a problem that has got out of hand. Couples argue and that’s inevitable, but arguing well isn’t. We need to remember how to communicate well despite the emotion. We need to remember to listen to our boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse’s point of view.

We all know couples who say things like ‘We’re so well suited, we’ve never argued’. I used to say that about my relationship, but all romantic relationships will involve arguments. No one who has been dating for ages or married for a while can honestly say they don’t argue.

We can’t let it just create more problems, more frustrations, and losers

What’s An Argument?

We may define an argument as screaming and shouting. To others, it may be when couples are snapping and getting irritated. Or it may involve the silent treatment, then an outburst of annoyance. Arguments look different for different couples, but arguments unfortunately happen. Every couple argues.

The goal isn’t therefore about avoiding arguments entirely but learning to argue well.

We need to learn to communicate and reduce the chances of an argument in the first place, but when they happen, we need to use it to solve an issue and address the problem. We can’t let it just create more problems, more frustrations, and losers.

(The following extract is taken from page 217-218 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)

Handling Arguments 

Whether you’re someone who puts arguments in relationships down to a passionate nature, or believes that raised voices mean the end of the relationship, it’s important to evaluate what’s really going on. If we don’t, we could find ourselves revisiting the same frustrations over and over again, each time with increased anger as unresolved problems re-surface.

Often our frustration or anger can give us tunnel vision

While it’s true that every couple will deal with conflict differently, dating well means being prepared to think about how we can be more gracious, being better communicators, and sometimes asking others to help us get a godly perspective on how things are going in our relationship.

Often our frustration or anger can give us tunnel vision, and we can’t think about anything but winning the battle at all costs.

The Bible advises us: ‘Don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life’ (Ephesians 4:26–27; The Message).

What Can We Do? 

How can you put this into practice in your dating relationship? Here are some questions to help you unpack how you approach conflict and how you could challenge yourself to react differently in an argument:

  • Do you always need to win the argument? What might you be losing in the meantime? The respect and support of a friend, or the trust of your girl/ boyfriend?
  • Do you jump to the defensive when your girl/boyfriend questions you? Instead, could you admit your mistake, or ask them to clarify what they mean?
  • What is your temper like? Getting angry makes good communication impossible. How could you calm down before you try to resolve the conflict?
  • Are you able to hear what is upsetting or frustrating your girl/ boyfriend? Stony silence isn’t the same as listening. How can you demonstrate with your tone and body language that you are willing to listen?

A Word To The Guys – From André

We need to watch how we treat our girlfriends in arguments. We get frustrated because she is making things so emotional, but she’s probably frustrated that you’re not being emotional about something that’s important to her!

Raising your voice and laying down the law may be what you’ve learnt, or feel is the right thing to do, but it doesn’t resolve the situation.

Listening to what she’s upset about and repeating it back to her can really calm the situation down and reassure her that you’re trying to help. Believe it or not, we don’t always need to come up with a solution! Listening is the first step, and sometimes the only step.

I hope you don’t argue lots, I hope that the rubbish in your relationships reduce so you can enjoy the good stuff

A Word to The Girls – From Rachel

As women, we also need to watch how we treat our boyfriends in arguments. Often guys want to rationalise or fix the situation, and they can struggle with just embarking on yet another emotional conversation.

Successfully resolving conflict can really strengthen a relationship

It’s not our emotions that are the problem, but using them to guilt-trip our men into backing down is. So be clear with your boyfriend about what is upsetting or frustrating you. Listen to his thoughts and be willing to work it through together.

Successfully resolving conflict can really strengthen a relationship.

(Read the introduction of The Dating Dilemma book for free now, or buy the book here.)

Imagine If…

I hope you don’t argue lots, I hope that the rubbish in your relationships reduces so you can enjoy the good stuff. But when you do argue, I pray you can solve the problem by arguing well. And stick together through the mess. (Read After Your Arguments, You Don’t Walk Out.)

The next time you argue, as hard as it is, don’t just think ‘I want to show them I’m right’. But try to see it from their point of view, even if you disagree. Ask how you would react and feel if you were them.

What good/bad advice were you told about arguments?

Originally posted 5/12/2016

Dating Someone? Commitment Assumptions Can Cause Cracks

Early Dating, Relationship Difficulties

New relationships are often hindered by assumptions and confusion around commitment. People can assume that the other person is as committed as they are. Or they are confused about how committed the other person really is. Being aware of the five levels of commitment can put you both on the same page.  

I had a friend once who said that he found dating really hard, and the main reason for this was because he felt one person is always more committed than the other in the beginning. So it’s difficult to know what the relationship is, or if there even is a relationship. (Read I Wasn’t Sure When We Were An ‘Official Couple’).

Modern dating has many joys but it does bring uncertainty

My friend had a very good point. If one person in the new relationship is really keen and committed while the other person isn’t sure, it can become toxic. If a couple assumes the other person is as committed as them when they aren’t, it can lead to feeling hurt and betrayed.

Talk It Out

The advice I give that can help is twofold. Firstly, you need to talk about it. Modern dating has many joys, but it does bring uncertainty. Especially in the beginning. But we aren’t mind readers. You need to talk about how you both see the relationship and how invested you really are.

If we don’t talk about it, we can end up suffocating a relationship, leading people on, over analysing, or the like. This can result in hurt and pain, which none of us want to experience or cause. Talking and communicating is part of any healthy relationship. (Read my post on the importance of activeness in a relationship)

What Can I Say? 

Now me telling you to talk is all very well, but what do you say? How do you explain your commitment levels? Well, I think Barbara Wilson’s ‘five levels’ can really help you here, and help you understand where you’re both at, and bring you to the same point.

(The following extract is taken from page 116-117 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)

In case all of this commitment talk is putting you off asking someone out because it feels way too serious, relax! Forming a new relationship is supposed to be enjoyable, because it’s full of lots of exciting firsts; the first time you have a deep and meaningful chat, the first time you pray together, the first time you refer to each other as your boy/girlfriend, the first time you hold hands, the first blazing row, the first kiss. But it’s at the very moment that we want to be going full speed ahead that we need to learn to pace ourselves!

Go Deep, Don’t Sink!

Getting to know someone can be intoxicating and incredible. You share thoughts that no-one else knows and feel alive when you’re near them. This is intimacy. It grows through a number of levels. Barbara Wilson outlines these in her book, The Five Levels of Intimacy.

Level one: When we start liking someone we want to get to know them. ‘Chatting someone up’ is simply a way of building a link with someone through conversation.

Level two: We get to know a bit about the person we’re attracted to: their values and beliefs. Things are getting more personal as we’re making choices about whether this person’s values match ours or not.

Level three: We feel safe to share our values and beliefs with them. This opens us up to the possibility to rejection, and is where relationships between Christians and non-Christians often end.

Level four: We share our feelings and experiences by talking about our mistakes, hopes and dreams. Have you ever started talking at this level with someone too soon? You probably felt a bit vulnerable, especially if they’re not doing the same.

Level five:  We explore each other’s deepest needs, desires and emotions. It’s at this level that we open ourselves up to the greatest experience any relationship can ever offer, and the greatest risk of rejection. So we save this for marriage; that ultimate commitment that alone makes us safe enough to give ourselves completely to the other person.

Exclusivity doesn’t mean intensity

As you prepare to go deep in your dating relationship, consider how you can travel together emotionally. Be careful that you don’t jump into intimate conversations before you have established the foundation, trusting each other and feeling safe with who they are as a person.

Exclusivity is good, but we must remember that intimacy takes time to grow.

So alongside being exclusive, we need to be wise in how we nurture intimacy. Rushing headlong into vulnerability and pinning all our hopes on one person can be very overwhelming for them. Exclusivity doesn’t mean intensity. Our trust and intimacy with each other needs to flourish over time.

As you commit yourself to being exclusive and going deep, avoid sinking into intimacy you’re not yet ready for.

(Read the introduction of The Dating Dilemma book for free now, or buy the book here.)

What stage are you at? Are you between stages? What about the person you’re dating? You need to be honest about where you are and where you want to be. By having a rough guide in your head and talking, you can take out the assumptions and confusion, and focus on growing together.

What would you add to these levels if anything?

Originally posted 9/11/2016