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Too Nice to Say No

Dear Philippa,

I've read your book and am at step three. I've chosen to use both print and Internet ads to find dates. For the most part, things are working quite well. I am meeting some interesting women on "coffee dates". And, I guess I am a lucky guy in that many of the women I meet make it clear that they want to get to know me better. But most are not my "right type", so I don't want to see them again. I tend to be nice to every woman I meet. I hate to hurt anyone so I can't bring myself to tell them I'm not interested. I feel bad because sometimes I say that I'll call them, but don't. I just don't know how to tell them the truth without hurting their feelings.

�Bob, Louisville, KY


Dear Bob,

When I first started giving my 4-Step seminars I used to hand out something to help people with their first dates. They were little folded pieces of paper printed inside with three statements. The idea was that you handed the paper to the person you were meeting for the first time and explained that you wanted to make the meeting comfortable for both of you. Before your first date is over you each indicated on the paper whether you wanted to take this date further, wanted time to think about it, or just wanted to thank the other person for meeting you. Then you exchange papers. You read what the other person wrote later when you�re alone. In this way both honesty and risking rejection are addressed in a non-threatening manner.

I always got a mixed response in class to this idea. Some people loved it, others thought it would be a real turn off on dates. Personally, I wish the guys I used to meet on first dates used such a technique. I don�t know how many women or men go home after a first meeting wondering how it really went and if the other person is really going to call. Guys complain that they call up women who seemed interested and get some lame excuse about being too busy. Women complain that guys say they�re going to call and then they don�t.

Clearly, everyone wants the other person to be honest and the clincher is how to be honest in a kind manner. Realize that not everyone is your type and you�re not going to be right for everyone either. That is the reality�not a reason for feeling rejection.

Being the nice guy is a great attribute in certain situations. But your inability to let the ladies know that they�re not for you has nothing to do with being a nice guy. Conflict avoidance wrecks havoc in all areas of our lives�at work and at home, as well as in our romantic lives. People think being straightforward creates unpleasant repercussions. The fact is that you can�t avoid dealing with the less than pleasant things in life. If you do, they�ll come back and bite you in the bum when you�re not looking.

Ask yourself if you are being too charming with the women you are meeting? Maybe you are sending the wrong signals so they assume you are interested and then you feel obligated to make promises you won�t keep. Save your warmth and charm for the ones that seem like possibilities. Try being pleasant, but less disarming with the wrong ones.

When you are setting up a first date, try limiting your time to�say 15-20 minutes to just get acquainted. Arrange this before you meet the other person. If the woman turns out to be someone you really like, flatter her by asking to extend the date or plan a second one. Limiting the time means you can make a graceful getaway before getting in too deep with the wrong person.

Practice saying, "Thank you for taking the time to meet me but I�m still trying to figure out who I �m looking for." The message is honest and clear. You didn�t say anything about your date not being the right type. For me there is something about the words "not my type" that has a slightly condescending ring to it.

Let the women you are about to meet know that you are at a discovery stage in your search for your Ms. Right. Inquire about their efforts to do the same. Then when you meet and its not a match you can still enjoy the conversation by swapping dating stories. You might even become friends. I made some great friends that way when I was searching and we even attended singles events together and helped each other meet other people.




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