Q: Be honest: what is the least dick way to tell someone you don’t think it’s going to work after you’ve gone out on one date with him?
A: This one is easy. Never talk to him again. Simply ignore all of his texts and phone calls if he is one of those people who still communicate through actual phone calls. Act like he has never existed to you, and then hope that you don’t randomly run into him anywhere ever again. This approach works only if you don’t have mutual friends and/or hang out in the same crowd with any kind of regularity. So make sure that no matter what, you never hang out with some dude your friends set you up with.
OK, I was kidding. That’s probably the worst thing you could possibly do, even if it is usually the easiest. You don’t owe a guy much of anything, but you shouldn’t subject a person to complete radio silence. That’s not cool.
So on to the honest part. Know that I will always be honest with you.
The best thing you can possibly do is be honest without going overboard. There’s a difference between appropriate honesty and blatant, blunt honesty. Don’t tell him a bunch of stuff you’ve pinpointed that is wrong with him. You’re not his dating coach, and he’s not really asking for a Yelp review. (But if he follows up asking for specifics, feel free to let him have it. He’s either a glutton for punishment, or earnestly wants to improve as an individual so as to make it to date number two.)
What I’m saying is keep it simple.
If you’re one of those people who don’t really buy the “opposites attract” mating hypothesis and you feel as though you didn’t have much in common, tell him you feel like you don’t have much in common. Or, actually, tell him instead that you don’t feel as though the two of you had much chemistry. It’s hard to feel too badly when someone says this to you, because nobody can even say what it really means.
If there’s someone else in your pool of eligible bachelors, tell him there is someone else you’re getting serious with. Any guy should be able to accept that a) there are probably other dudes pursuing the same woman, and b) chances are strong that you will lose out to these other dudes at least occasionally. Sometimes the bad guys go out on top; sometimes the good guys lose.
And so on.
You can deliver this message of rejection any way you want to, really, but I’ve found that it’s easiest to give and receive in a text-based format when you are not anywhere near the person you’re trying to “let down easy.” I would suggest using the way in which you’ve done the majority of your communication, whether that be text messaging, email, smoke signal, or the online dating site you met on. After only one date, you shouldn’t feel any obligation to break it to him in person, especially because the news you’re breaking to him is essentially that you would prefer not to see him in person again.
When you let him down, make sure you’re thankful. Thank him for the date, and especially thank him if he paid for drinks or dinner or whatever it is you did together. (Unless it was, like, bowling, because what in the hell was that guy thinking taking you bowling on a first date?)
And, finally, be reactionary. Don’t feel like you need to tell him 20 minutes after you parted ways that you don’t want to hang out again. Any man worth his salt realizes that he’s generally the one who is supposed to be proactive about setting up a second date. Wait for him to ask you out again. There’s a chance that he might never reach out, and if you didn’t want to go out with him again anyway, why not just let the silence stand as a tacit agreement that you will never again go on a lackluster date together?