We are all too familiar with this uncomfortable scenario: someone catches your eye, but soon you lose interest. After letting them know you’ve changed your mind and are no longer interested, they keep messaging you. Or maybe you were never interested, but they keep trying to persuade you otherwise. Dealing with unwanted online romantic attention can be annoying, anxiety-inducing, and harrowing in many ways. However, there are some precautions you can take to do the best you can to avoid these kinds of interactions.
Look for Friends
If you’re just looking for friendships to start off, make that clear from the start. This doesn’t always work to dissuade a persistent harasser, but it’s a great place to start covering your bases.
Are you interested in a particular hobby/topic where you might find like-minded people to share this interest with? Meetup.com is a great way to meet people under more organic and less stressful circumstances. Whether your interest is karaoke, ballroom dancing, or dirt-bikes, there’s a group online that is also interested in those things.
Start Out Incognito
Giving out your personal information to someone that you have never met in person is something to think twice about. Try using Google Voice, or another messaging app that hides your phone number.
You can also get a special email address just for dating. Don’t include your last name or easily identifiable information that can be used against you. This includes things like birthdate, birth year, and location.
Also, when first meeting someone, keep your place of employment and where you live on the vague side and instead, tell them what you do and what city you live in but keep the details to yourself until you’ve been able to vet this person a bit more.
Meet Somewhere New
We know – we all have our favorite spots where we like to bring our dates. We like to be able to chat about it with the friendly staff that works there. They look forward to who our next date will be as much as we do. However, doing this opens you up to introduce one of those dates to their possible new favorite place too. Meaning, you may run the risk of bumping into them if you have to break things off. You do not want a potential stalker to know where your favorite hangouts are.
If You’re Just Not Interested
If things aren’t going well and you need to break it off, it’s important that you’re very clear with the person that you’re not interested in pursuing anything romantic with them and don’t want to talk to them anymore. Don’t try to “drop hints” or sugar coat your message, as all this does is create wiggle room for the perpetrator to start thinking that “maybe there’s a chance.” Instead, be direct, and be honest with how you feel.
As you’re letting the person know you’re not interested, make sure your message ends with a “final goodbye” at the end. “I’m sorry, but I’m not interested at all,” or “I don’t see this going anywhere romantic. Good luck.”
Attempts to take the sting out of your message with emojis or compliments will only muddy the waters and your suitor might take this as a cue to amp up his pursuits, leading to more unwanted online romantic attention for you. Make your message clear.
Stop Responding and/or Block
If they keep responding to you, ignore them as best you can despite how tempting it is to respond negatively. Don’t agree to be friends. If they continue to pester, block their number. Do not answer calls, respond to texts, or agree to meet for closure, to return items, or for any other reason. It might seem cold or cruel, but it’s not. It would be cruel to both of you to continue any sort of relationship out of guilt or a sense of duty. It’s better for both of you to move forward and find the right match.
Are you searching for a relationship and need help navigating the single life? Are you already dealing with unwanted online romantic attention and need help finding a way out? A qualified mental health professional can help. Call us today and let’s set up a time to talk.
About the author(s)
Karen is the founder and Clinical Director of Cohesive Therapy NYC. She earned a Masters in Social Work from New York University and has extensive training in Hypnosis, Anxiety, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Brainspotting, and DGBI. She is a member of the Institute of Certified Anxiety Treatment Professionals, The Rome Foundation, the National Association of Social Workers, The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, and the American Social of Clinical Hypnosis.