This is the final essay in the four-part series "First Date Tips." Before we leave this topic, we cannot ignore one of the most common issues that arises out of the awkward dating scenario. How do you handle it when you are not interested in a second date? Do you owe your date anything? Is it better to be honest or to simply avoid the issue by not returning phone calls?
Let's start at the beginning. The end of the first date is always one of the most awkward moments. By the date's end, each person already knows whether they would like to see the other again. If each is interested, it is usually pretty clear. How do you know? There is often some sort of romantic overture, such as a kiss, or blushing awkwardness that suggests there is a mutual attraction.
If there is no mutual interest, and you know you're not interested, there is no need to spill the beans right there. You don't need to take a fax number down so you can send them the 10 reasons why you won't see them again. You also don't need to make a promise you won't keep. It seems unfair and unnecessary to suggest "I'll call you tomorrow" when you know you won't. Saying something like "I will talk to you later" is a nice way to get out of addressing anything directly in that moment.
Okay, the hardest question within the first date context: What do you do when your date calls afterward and says he or she would love to see you again? Do you owe your date anything?
I believe you owe something universal to people but not something specific. I believe you owe your date, and people in general, a certain dignity and respect. You don't necessarily owe someone a call back. If your date calls once and you are not interested, think about whether this is someone you will see again. If not, you can let the call go and not calling back will speak for yourself. If this is someone you will cross paths with again frequently, it is better to kindly address it. Call back and say you had a great time but feel that the two of you are better suited as friends. It never hurts to add "I hope there are no hard feelings."
If your date calls a second time, I believe the kind thing to do is to call them and address it, even if you will never see them again. Think about dating karma. It feels uncomfortable to do but sometimes doing uncomfortable things helps us grow. Consider that your date may have thought he or she found someone he or she could have a relationship with. That person has a mom or dad, and friends he or she could have excitedly shared details with about the date with you. Don't leave your date out in the cold if he or she really liked you. Don't lead them on, either. Remember, in general, that striking a balance is both the challenge and goal of our lives.