Giving Them a Chance or Leading Them On?


In a recent blog post, “First Date Dilemma: To Go or Not To Go,” I posed the question: “What happens when a guy–who you are not romantically interested in–asks you on a date?” From reading the feedback in the comment box, I know many readers are on completely opposite sides of this issue.

Before we continue, I’d like to try to clear up any misconceptions you might have about the insincerity of my plan. I never meant to imply being insensitive to someone’s feelings. In reading your comments and talking about this further, I wanted to highlight one very important reason I feel strongly about this that may not have come across in my initial post.

As humans we share in the image and likeness of God. Our dignity demands fair and honest interactions. For that reason, I believe that we deserve one another’s timereal minutes spent in face-to-face contact. In today’s culture of cell phone text messaging and Facebook chatting, we have grown more and more distant from one another. The art of conversation is lostreplaced instead by ongoing cyber-interaction which is devoid of any type of body language or real emotional sensitivity.

I believe that real human interaction is one of the cures for our desensitized culture and is one main reason I feel we should encourage these face-to-face interactions among people. Especially on a dating site like CatholicMatchwhere our first impressions of people come from online profiles, messaging and chats. It’s so important to remember that these online interactions give us a glimpse of the real person but not the fullness of who that person really is. That is something you can only find out when you look someone in the eye.

So, for the sake of argument,  let’s just say you have accepted that date with someone you don’t immediately see any long-term potential with. How should you handle it from here?

Casual Atmosphere. First, it’s important to try to keep the date in a “getting to know you” format. Coffee shops, lunches rather than dinners, or ice cream and some window shopping are some ideas which will frame the date in a way that doesn’t lend itself easily to a possibly misinterpreted romantic atmosphere.

Be You. Above all else, be yourself. Oftentimes, in trying to keep our distance, we don’t really show our hand and let people know who we really are. I believe this false front approach is a byproduct of our cyber-culture and it doesn’t help us to develop real relationship skills to deal kindly and gently with people who have very real emotions and feelings. Being yourself challenges us to be fair and honest with those with whom we interact.

No Mixed Signals. Work hard not to give the person mixed signals. Be aware of your body language–friendly doesn’t mean flirty. Don’t just flatter someone because it makes it easier to be with them. It isn’t fair to you or to the person you are spending time with.

Upfront Conversation. You already know that you don’t see immediate long-term potential with this person so take some time beforehand to really think about how you would like this conversation to go. Again, we need to remember that these are people with feelings that we are dealing with. How can you kindly say you just want to be friends? This is going to be different for everyone. I think it’s important to be positive in your assessment of the person. You are here because this person deserves real minutes from your day. Remember that encouraging people to have real face-to-face interactions  is part of the big picture here. Keep this in mind when deciding what to say.

Realize too, that just because you are on this date, doesn’t mean you have to have this conversation immediately. It is a very real possibility that this date is honestly just about getting to know you better too–insinuating anything more than that on either side truly is presumption. If you pay attention to the signals and the conversation, you will know if it is the right time to have the “just being friends” discussion.

Exit Strategy. The grace of being able to bring things to a close–whether that is this date or just a friendly telephone conversation–is really a lost art. Plan out how you would like to say good-bye. Don’t kiss or hug just to do so. Don’t imply or agree to see the person again because it makes things easier. Focus on the present moment–say something like, “It’s been wonderful to get to see you in a setting that’s different from (work/school/gym).”

Dating is the art of building relationships–real, face-to-face ones–and in this day of email and text messaging, we sometimes have to work harder and go a little out of our comfort zones to make this happen.

What are some ideas to make this kind of date work for you?



  1. Susie Lloyd January 21, 2017 Reply

    One of my daughters (I have 6) went on a coffee date with a guy she met at church. Afterwards she told me that she had no romantic interest in him but that she wished she could get to know him better because she could tell he was a great guy and she wanted to be his friend. Anyway, he asked her on a follow up date and she said yes but planned that there would be no more dates after that. They got engaged a few months later. So, yeah. I’m in the give it a chance camp. You might not be interested romantically at first but if you get to know someone and find out how wonderful they are, you might fall in love. She did.

  2. Sean-1354996 January 21, 2017 Reply

    “Do you ladies actually believe men like this arrangement?” I wasn’t aware you spoke for me. I’ve had the opposite issue. I quite like the obligations and the responsibilities because it makes the roles clear. There is no awkwardness or uncertainties. You show up you order whatever your heart fancies and we share an afternoon together. No more or no less. I think it’s fair to give the other person a chance, and that goes both ways. I don’t know the person, shouldn’t I at least get to know them a bit before making a decision as to our future? Maybe God’s plans and wants and desires for me are different than my initial 20 second reaction?

  3. Sara-1195898 October 27, 2015 Reply

    I think the man should be expected to pay only if the couple is in a serious, committed relationship and only if he chooses to. The one and only time I met with a guy I went to a coffee shop with my female bestie and we got there first, so when he arrived, we already had our drinks and had paid. When he arrived, he bought his, we talked, we parted, and that was that.

  4. Ellen-761443 January 18, 2015 Reply

    I don’t think that women who expect nice treatment on dates are being inconsiderate to men. They are just being women. The men should ask us out, spend time with us, get to know us, etc. And yes, we are allowed to accept or reject who you are for any reason. That is the reality of the dating world.
    Having said that, I agree with the author that women should not ‘lead men on’ at all. I am always very honest with men early on. If I feel good about a connection, then I want to get to know him more. If I don’t I tell him so and move on. That is just the reality as most of us see it, and it is also the reality for men who can call it off at any time. That’s how we all learn who is good for us and who is not.

  5. Dean-1150250 November 18, 2014 Reply

    Something to consider, with an open heart, please.

    It seems that the ladies have many opinions regarding their perceived responsibilities to the guys, most of which seem to be “I have no obligation”. But, have you considered the many definite and strict requirements that guys have for you ladies that are not optional? Such as being the one to ask out, pay, follow up, etc. What about all the actions during the date? Men are expected to perform, such as opening doors, paying attention to other etiquette requirements being chivalrous, etc when you ladies just have to say yes and show up? It seems that it is men who are expected to perform and that you ladies are only expected to evaluate and accept or reject. We are people, hopefully all striving to conform to the image and likeness of Christ, not the animal kingdom.

    Remember please, this isn’t the 18th Century, this is 2014. This is the age of “equality” and men are continuously assailed by women’s rights and demands that they be “equals”. Yet, women want men to maintain female serving privileges of the bygone era, while yielding the male privileges of that same era, in the name of “equality”. Do you ladies actually believe men like this arrangement? Or do you choose to believe they like it?

    With these factors I mentioned, and many more, maybe consider why marriage rates are at a 93 year low in the USA. Double standards are not respectful, honoring, or beneficial. They also really hurt ones feelings.

    I hope we all seek to honor Him in our choices.

    • Rosemary-1041501 June 12, 2015 Reply

      “… women want men to maintain female serving privileges of the bygone era, while yielding the male privileges of that same era, in the name of “equality”. Do you ladies actually believe men like this arrangement? Or do you choose to believe they like it?”
      Of course the core of equality is based on “rights,” not “privileges.” A man is no more obligated to pay for everything on a date than a woman is obligated to go on that date with him in the first place. And opening doors for other people is just polite. I open and hold doors for strangers, men and women, all the time. It is every individual’s right to not pay for someone else’s dinner on a date and it is every individual’s right to ignore an emoticon on this website. I’m curious, what are the male “privileges” that you are referring to? From my dating experience and the experiences of my friends I would say most men would not be in favor of the specific arrangement you’ve illustrated, but I don’t know anyone who feels their relationship is unfair in that respect. The couples I know where the men pay work that way because the men prefer it, not the women. In fact, most women I know, myself included, are extremely uncomfortable with men paying. Usually this is because, as we date in a largely secular world, the men believe they do have certain sexual privileges if they pay for us on dates. I never let anyone pay for me because I have my own money and also for that reason. (That last bit has a lot to do with the lower marriage rates these days. Women are much less dependent on men financially.)
      It’s possible that you’ve gone out with women who have given you negative experiences, and if so I’m sorry. But most of the women who have commented here are more concerned with how to respectfully and politely and quickly let a man know they’re not interested because they don’t want to lead him on. They don’t want to use a man to get free food and gifts.

  6. Traci-1152188 November 17, 2014 Reply

    I met with a few how do you politely tell them you aren’t interested that way after they tell you they are attracted to you?

  7. Michael-1073279 August 14, 2014 Reply

    Heather, Wonderful article with sound advise.

  8. Tom-995241 July 30, 2014 Reply

    This is a tough site. It’s a site about being Catholic with some dating thrown in, anyway that’s the way I see it, It’s only my opinion.

  9. Andy-516957 July 29, 2014 Reply

    The women on CM could be way way more open to meeting people. And that goes for women in general. I understand there is a lot of fear out there, fine, have a “safety buddy” but get out and meet people. In about 6 years on CM (2006-2013) I had fewer than 20 first dates. At least one of those women wasn’t even Catholic.
    Ladies, If you want to get married and have kids, it starts with a first date, and that starts with a guy finding you attractive and asking you out. If you don’t say yes, you don’t know what you are going to miss out on.

  10. Jim-1027772 July 29, 2014 Reply

    Speaking of leading someone on. I dated a very attractive lady for about two months and I thought I was making progress with her. However, we went to a concert where people danced to the music and she happened to run across a guy she knew from a dance class they had together. She went and talked with him and they ended up dancing together most of the night. About an hour before it ended I left alone. I haven’t seen her since.

  11. Ryan-1116514 July 29, 2014 Reply

    I’m very new to this online dating world. I’ve had to learn about the differences between this and getting to know somebody in the community. I started at Christian Mingle, and at first I had the point of view that interaction should be treated just like real life. For example: if you met someone out on “the street” and they politely smile at you and say hello. You look into their eyes, maybe read what’s on their t-shirt, then give them your back and walk away. That, to me, would be absurdly rude. Instead you may just smile back and move on.

    I’ve had to learn that the online world is “hopefully” a reflection of reality (though sadly in many cases its not), but it does not interact as reality does. In the real world, you dont have time to sit back and think about what you want to say or how you want to say it. You’re there in the moment and you have to be yourself (or unfortunately for others you are a very good improv actor at dating). To be honest I’m not sure where I stand yet with this author. There are good arguements on both sides. I suppose right now all I can say is this: remember that there is a person on the other side of that computer screen. That person has honestly (hopefully) done the best they could to sum up who they are in 2500 characters or less. That simply isn’t reality, but it is the reality of the online dating world.

    God bless to all! I do hope He may use this tool in your life to fulfill what you’re looking for.

  12. Kathy M. July 29, 2014 Reply

    I should follow up my original post by saying that I am guilty of ignoring several emotigrams, all of which were not accompanied by any personal message. My feeling, right or wrong, was that anyone who was interested enough to send me an emotigram should have the ability/confidence, whatever, to send along a sentence or two indicating they enjoyed reading my profile and would like to try to get to know me better. Due to a past experience on a different site, being able to write a coherent sentence in English became important to me. I realize, of course, that this method of weeding out potential matches is not foolproof, but I felt like I needed to start somewhere. Luckily for me, my fiance persevered through two emotigrams to which he received no response. His third emotigram invited me out for coffee (he lived in the same metro area) and I accepted. Praise God that I did and that he did not give up on me. I realize that a coffee date is not possible for those who are exploring long-distance matches, but I encourage the gentleman here who have tried the emotigram and gotten no response to be sure an add a little personal sentence or two that shows your interest. You may find that you get better results.

  13. Kathy M. July 29, 2014 Reply

    I just want to point at that a lack of response to an emotigram or message on this site does not necessarily mean disinterest or a lack of charity. Sometimes is just means that the recipient is not a paying member of Catholic Match and, therefore, cannot respond. This is true on all “member” based dating websites. It is easy to assume that all profiles available to you are paying members. They are not. This is how these services “motivate” you to become a paying member, by showing you all the profiles on the site (both paying and non-paying). However, there is no indication on a profile whether they are truly a member or not. So, do your self-esteem a favor and, when you feel you are being ignored, chalk it up to having contacted a non-payer.

  14. Patrick-341178 July 29, 2014 Reply

    If I asked a woman out on this site and was skeptical and didnt see much potential, but still saw a chance, I would be happy to go on a date with her. However, if she definitely saw no potential and just said yes to a date so she could get a night of free stuff, how does that help me? I would probably prefer a respectful thanks, but no thanks, rather than never hearing from her again, but if it is no, it really doesn’t matter that much.

    This is a site of endless possibilities so if you aren’t interested, just move on with your lives. Don’t worry about hurting the other person’s feelings or even worse, attempt a friendship. This site isn’t for friendship.

    • Aisleigh-411370 July 30, 2014 Reply

      Having been on dates where it was clear from the first moment that there was no chemistry, I can tell you that it’s not worth a “night of free stuff” as you put it. I’d much rather be at home in my pajamas than on a date with someone who thinks I’m out to swindle him out of a free meal. No woman wants to go out with a guy like that.

      • Dean-1150250 November 18, 2014 Reply

        Aisleigh, I think you are assuming that all women are as considerate as you are, they aren’t. There are plenty of women who see dating as a financial supplement to their budget. Also, couldn’t you just pay for your share, I.E dutch, and then go your separate way? Why is it assumed that men should pay? Isn’t expecting them to ask out, with concomitant risk of rejection, enough already?

        Think how dating would change for the positive if it was a social norm that the person who accepts the date was expected to pay? Really think about it. I think it would be very beneficial to everyone.


  15. James-1082060 July 28, 2014 Reply

    I can appreciate the author’s attempt to put civility into this website’s ultimate product: dates between Catholics. CM has forums and blogs and advice columns, but what is really being sold here is the ability to meet and marry other Catholics. If a lot of customers find their dates are not only infrequent but unpleasant, then the whole show grinds to a halt. So it sounds good to try and superimpose a little of the manners and social grace we use at the local level on meeting people thru the global internet. In other words, treat internet dating like any other type of dating. Dating used to be the domain of our church oriented communities, but with the changes society has seen in the past 50 years church community has also changed and a part of that change is the loss of local dominance. In my opinion, that’s where the author goes wrong in that internet dating is NOT the same as dating from the local church community, and there are good reasons why they should be treated differently.

    First off, I’m not talking about receiving random messages and emails. Those aren’t dates, they aren’t even human contact. They’re spam if they aren’t tailored to specific topics of conversation or interests that are uniquely designed to get a response. And even if it took the writer hours to craft, it’s still likely impersonal to the receiver and fair to be treated as such, by Catholics or any other denomination. Also, I’m not going to go in to internet horror stories. The author’s scenario for first date with someone you’re not really interested in ends well, but the internet is a very shady place (likely even on CM) and being anonymous is not debatable. While it always colors how I interact with people on the internet, never give out enough information to identify yourself. Enough about what I’m not talking about ….

    My interpretation of the evolution of internet dating: Blind dates thru friends (1970s) >>> Classified add personals (1980s) >>> Telephone service dating (1990s) >>> Internet dating (+2000s). The roll-of-the-dice style of dating evolved along with technology, from verbal to print to audio to the visual, but all of it was impersonal and all of it had the element of risk. None of this was dating in the sense that the person you were meeting had been adequately vetted, all of it involved the likely chance of misinformation or outright lies, and the results were usually poor, if you were lucky (yes, yes, I know all the success stories … but for every success there are thousands of failures, so I stand by what I’ve written). Internet dating is risky if you just consider the chance of positive results, and nothing more.

    Now contrast this to local community dating. I have dated people after knowing them for a while, after seeing them interact with others, respond to crises, while they were at their best and worst. And none of that had the same level of risk, the premeditated or accidental misinformation, the presentation of unreality to attract attention. When I contrast how I treat a known person from my local community with a virtual someone from the internet community you can bet that there is a tremendous difference in civility. If I meet you on the internet you will not even be at the acquaintance level with me until I have a chance to vet you, to see if you are not only what you said you were but not something that you never bothered to tell me about. So the first face to face has to be treated as if you’re with someone you’re not acquainted with.

    The author’s suggestions aren’t onerous (be real, keep it light, exit promptly), but I wouldn’t subject myself to them if the person was obviously different than their online profile. And I’d reserve the right to drop her suggestions if at any time my “spidey-sense” tells me to. In a first date with anyone from the internet, no matter how nice or solid the profile, you are not dealing with a known quantity, and you can not fool yourself into thinking that you are.

    • Brooks-1099644 July 29, 2014 Reply

      Are you a college professor? You sure do write like you’re teaching!

      You put a lot of thought and additional information into your answer that really didn’t answer the question. So are you saying it is okay on a first date to leave in the middle because your “Spidey-sense” has warned you? One look at the lenhth of a hem-line will tell you this woman is not what she represented herself to be, so you’re leaving?

      I personally do not agree with going on each date asked of a male or female, but if one says “yes” I do think that one should be courteous and finish out the time that was agreed upon just out of respect for the other individual.

      And James, where is your picture?

  16. Rene-747300 July 27, 2014 Reply

    In matters of courtship or dating, I really think that this website is to meet people one is interested in meeting…and simply being charitable for or against the fact of meeting for the first time is a rule for sure. I guess the dynamics do change when you meet someone first in person, rather than being sought or seeking to do so. The intention is really then, in Catholic dating website, the only thing then that counts. I do see then the possibility of just meeting someone one perhaps may be interesting just to meet and gather a first impression if and only it is possible and reasonable and above all Free & willing. Respect is to God, self and the other. Only charity is an obligation and God loves a cheerful giver. But if the interest is not there, then out of the same charity and respect, a man need not be fooled…as also a man truly take rejection….if necessary, but it is okay only out of honesty and sure good manners being presumed. I guess that is why courtship is more meaningful to me than just dating. In courtship, there is still the presumption that there is still gentlemen and ladies out there. We are certainly, social animals like Aristotle says. But I personally dislike the friendship discussion. Unrequited love is enough when one is really struggling through that cross and to add the surprisingly unrequited friendship is really a sign that we can all say very clearly Yes or No. And really it is not the end of the world to ask and get no reply. It says more of oneself to not ask then to see a young lady take the harder road of taking the initiative-that although appreciated does not really interest me as actually courting someone I like, but only if the young lady replies at least… Both males and females can always take a dose or two of truth and goodness in matters of seeking the other significant one.

  17. Frank-780947 July 27, 2014 Reply


    I have to disagree with your comment stating most people on this site are not truly interested in meeting another Catholic. If so……why be here?? I won’t consider anyone but a Catholic. The way I see things….this is one screwed up country; and I’m unwilling to go through life with anyone opposed to my values.

    • Ann-69118 July 28, 2014 Reply

      Frank it’s my belief too many people don’t really want a relationship they are just here to play but may not even realize it themselves. One guy on here actually told me he was just looking for someone to pay attention to him he wasn’t here for a relationship. He was looking a girlfriend to take care of him. What he expected to give back if anything I never found out. I’m sure many women are the same I’m not seeing it as a one gender issue. The internet makes a safe isolation zone. You can have a little discourse without emotional involvement.

  18. Aisleigh-411370 July 27, 2014 Reply

    “I believe that a true Catholic has a duty to give every suitor their due, either a “yes” or a polite “no thank you”, or something in between.”

    No. Just because someone viewed my profile and “beamed a smile” at me doesn’t mean I’m morally obligated to message them back telling them that I’m not interested. If I ignore a guy, it means I’m not interested. I used to respond to guys and tell them that I wasn’t interested, but they always wanted to keep the conversation going and ask WHY. I eventually got tired of having to explain myself. If I don’t find a guy attractive, his pestering me for a reason surely won’t change my mind.

    If I send a smiley face and don’t hear back from they guy, I’ll just assume he read something he didn’t like in my profile “Oh, she’s not anti-smoking, can’t have that” or “Oh I see she’s into that dry, sarcastic humor, I can’t stand that”. And I move on. I don’t need him to tell me why. He doesn’t own me an explanation, just like I don’t own anyone else an explanation.

    That’s why it comes down to, too many people in this world believe that the world owes them something and that’s just not the case.

    • Tara-916139 July 27, 2014 Reply

      Agree completely! This has been my experience, as well.

    • Sharon-942543 July 28, 2014 Reply

      I am not under any illusion that the world owes me anything but I think being Christian means being charitable to people and it is polite to respond to someone when they make the effort to contact you, it’s simply manners, and it says a lot about a person.

      • Aisleigh-411370 July 28, 2014 Reply

        But if I’m not interested in them, why do I care what they think of my manners? I’m not being unkind by ignoring someone I have no interest in, I’m being realistic. We’re looking for future spouses on here, not polite friends. Rude as it might sound, I’m not paying good money to find new friends.

        • Robert-741580 July 28, 2014 Reply

          Absolutely Ashleigh! I used to get bent out of shape by women not replying to a wink or a note, but I’ve just come to realize that it’s fine if you don’t. I mean why do you need to get into a back and forth as to why you’re not interested, especially with someone you don’t know well/at all? Just ignoring kind of sends a message on its own.

          Also, can I use that phrase too? “I’m not paying good money to find new friends.” Love it!

          • Aisleigh-411370 July 30, 2014 Reply

            Absolutely! I mean, c’mon, are you really paying this much money to find new Catholic pen pals?

        • Sharon-942543 July 29, 2014 Reply


          I can see your point. I replied to a guy on here & straight away he suggested meeting for coffee, I said I was only interested in being friends & he replied that so was he & then blocked me, then viewed my profile again some time later. It did seem it would have been better to not have bothered responding. I am messaging a couple of guys now out of politeness and at some point I have to either stop replying or make it clear I’m not interested.

    • Ann-69118 July 28, 2014 Reply

      For the most part if I am not interested I’d just ignore and do not respond. Way back when I started on the internet and did respond I almost always got a nasty note “so you think you better than me or too good for me or why do you have your profile on here then?” so I just quit responding to those I wasn’t interested in and bypass all the drama. The last one chewed me out for not want to be friends with benefits….I’m like you need to go to a more open site like or I had to block him eventually.

      • John W. January 27, 2015 Reply

        I have joined the dating site POF an I have chatted with a few women, an went on a date with one of them. If you are honest about yourself an I hope all would but some don’t. So I believe it doesn’t matter what site your on as long as you tell the truth in the beginning. I am a honest, caring an devoted man I go to church every week, an still find it hard to believe what a lot of people put on their profile.

  19. Sharon-942543 July 27, 2014 Reply


    I agree with you about people not acknowledging a message or emoticon, it’s very rude so how can they call themselves Catholic? There is a man on CM who I reply to although I am not interested & he is aware of this but he says I am the only person who has replied to his messages and he is thinking of giving up on this site. I am considering opening a discussion on it for his sake. I recently sent an emoticon to a guy I thought was cute & his profile looked interesting but he hasn’t replied. It makes me feel like demanding a reply but it also makes me wonder why – is it that I seem shallow as I haven’t written at length about myself.

    Anyway I don’t think I would date for the sake of it, I think it’s better to be upfront beforehand. If you are sure you’re definitely not interested then I don’t see the point in meeting. If you think there is a slim chance then maybe, but I think people could be left more disappointed if you lead them on.

    • Heather-1033703 September 14, 2014 Reply

      I am experiencing this right now too. I have sent my interview questions to four men recently. None of them have even viewed my profile, much less answered. It’s so frustrating. I don’t understand how they can all know I’m not worthy of their time without even checking out my profile.

  20. Rob-650245 July 27, 2014 Reply

    You made a valiant effort on a difficult subject. Sorry so many are so vehemently against what you said. I think many are not reading your text close enough.

    I think that the main point you make is that we should all make the effort to give people a chance, within reason, even if it’s not “love at first sight”. There are of course so many elements that go into “attraction” between two people.

    I believe that a true Catholic has a duty to give every suitor their due, either a “yes” or a polite “no thank you”, or something in between.

    The sad thing is how some members of this site call themselves “Catholic” yet won’t even acknowledge a message or smile received. I make it a point to acknowledge everyone who shows me interest, whether I am interested or not. I think that this type of behavior is a manifestation of the culture of cell phone text messaging that you speak of.

    As a Catholic, I can say that the sad truth is: Catholics today as well as most people on this site are for the most part no different than the mainstream population in there social behavior. I would go further by saying that most people on this site are not truly, deeply interested in finding a Catholic mate. Most are just going through the motions to check the block. They just don’t realize it.

  21. Russ-959222 July 27, 2014 Reply

    Is the guy in the picture wearing a pocket protector too? Another stereotypical depiction of the woman-repulsing nerd.

    • Marita-847688 July 28, 2014 Reply

      I actually didn’t notice all of that. The only thing that made him seem uncool was having a balloon full of hearts in one hand and deciding to give her a birthday balloon instead.

      • Ann-69118 July 28, 2014 Reply

        He’s smiling a little too hard that would freek me out if it was real.

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