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From a date to a relationship

Saying no

When you’re online dating, should you feel obliged to tell people “thanks, but no thanks”? Eve (57) wrote to us on this important subject, and we answered her with the help of two Parship surveys.

Saying no

“Dear Parship

Every day I deal with lots of people - in a friendly, or at least polite way. It makes life a lot easier. So it really bothers me on Parship when, as soon as I’ve sent a contact request to a man, he deletes me off his list without any kind of explanation. Online dating makes things easy, I know, but there is still a real person behind each codename. The least I could expect would be for the man to mail me with a simple ‘thank you, but no’, or maybe a few well-chosen words.” Eve (57) schoolteacher

Dear Eve,
You might have put a lot of effort into your contact request and yet you get no response. You’re left wondering whether he is ever going to get back to you - and maybe whether you wrote something that you shouldn’t have. You might even end up regretting taking the initiative in this kind of situation. But what do other people think? We made two surveys of a thousand Parship members on precisely these themes.

Is there a best way of saying no?
41% of people who responded to our survey - men as much as women - felt that the negative impact of a ‘no’ could be softened with a few well-chosen words. A further 23% of women and 28% of men didn’t worry too much about whether the words were pleasant or not, but felt that any reaction is better than none.

For 30% of women and 25% of men, it depends on what stage you have reached in the contact process: they didn’t necessarily expect a response to a contact request, but if things have gone further, they felt that an answer of some kind was necessary. Just 6% of members of either sex thought that the best option was simply to break off contact without a goodbye or a justification.

Two thirds of respondents wanted some feedback with the farewell, while the remaining third could live with an abrupt break-off if the contact had not got beyond an initial request. Much depends on how much heart and soul you are putting into your online dating. If you try and keep things relatively light, initiating and maintaining friendly contact with a number of people, then that is probably the approach that will lead to the least pain.

What if you’re the one saying goodbye?
To complement the information gathered in the first survey, we launched another questionnaire, asking how our members handled their online contact: 55% of women and 64% of men told us that they had never ended contact without saying goodbye to the person in question. 16% of women and 20% of men admitted that contact had come to an end in at least one case because they had handled things too casually.

14% of women and 6% of men had broken off contact with someone because that person had said things they had found offensive, offputting or strange. 8% of women and 5% of men would not reply if they didn’t like a photo that was released to them. 7% of all respondents felt that there was no need for a proper goodbye if the two of you had not yet met in person.

Letting things drop
It is possible that the people who chose to participate in our surveys are more than usually sensitive to these matters, but even so, the most frequently cited reason for failing to answer was simple negligence - especially in the case of men. (So Eve really doesn’t have herself to blame!) When you’re online, you don’t want to build things up into something they are not (not yet, at least), but what about good manners? Should you reply to each approach? Or does it depend how that approach is expressed? Men in the 50-plus age bracket are particularly in demand on Parship, so they might find themselves simply overwhelmed by the number of contact requests they receive.

Remember too that an online contact request is not like striking up a conversation with someone in a café or at a party. There, it would be obviously rude simply to ignore you, but in the virtual world of the Internet it’s a bit different. Parship offers the option of a number of standard, pre-prepared texts that you can use to say “thanks, but no thanks.” We try to help our members make the best of every situation - even if the context might not be entirely positive.

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