How Many Dates to Decide?

(NOW: You can read Dategirl every day on the Daily Weekly!)     Dear Dategirl, I know you recommend trying online dating, so I'm giving it a shot. I've met some nice guys on there, but as to be expected, they're not all a romantic match for me. When I'm not interested and they ask to meet me again, I'm not sure of the kindest approach. Is it better to ignore their message, or to let them know I'm not feeling it? One guy I met is great, but I'm not sure if the chemistry is there. I keep thinking the attraction will grow over time, but don't want to lead him on, either. How many dates do you think it should take to decide if you're into someone? —Digital Penetration Thank you, DP. I am so sick of certain people in my life moaning about how they haven't had a date in ages, and yet completely reject the idea of online dating. "I could never expose myself like that," one horny bitch whined to me a couple weeks back. Puh-lease! It's not like it's your only option—it's just a supplement to meeting people in the traditional way. Why not cast your net wide? Like you, I've also always found rejections difficult to issue (and even harder to take), so I understand the urge to skulk off into the ether instead. With a little help from founder Jennifer Kelton, I've come up with some rules to live by: Off the Hook. Let's pretend Danny Bonaduce is an online dater and he's sent you a wink or a note, asking to meet. For whatever reason—maybe you're not attracted to redheads, or have some sort of issue with substance abusers—you decide to reject Danny out of hand. Most online daters know that no response means no. And if you're the pursuer and the other person doesn't respond, you can pretend you never sent it. Wouldn't you prefer that to having someone write back and tell you why and how you don't meet their high standards? Who needs the ego ding? Not I! Jennifer disagrees. "It's much better to say 'No, thanks.' It comes back to how you would feel if someone just ignored you—it's disrespectful!" Two experts, two opinions—flip a coin. On the Hook. We both agree that if you've actually met a person, you owe him/her a response, no matter how weaselly. "If you are uncomfortable calling, a simple, sweet, and straightforward e-mail or text letting them down kindly is the polite thing to do," says Jennifer. This goes quadruple if you've slept with him and decided to cut him loose after waking up to his mother looming overhead asking what you'd like for breakfast. In that case, you might want to be explicit about exactly why you're never going to see him again. I would add that while I'm always in favor of a woman offering to pay her half on a date, if you're positive upon first whiff of his eau de manstench that you'll never see him again, you insist. How Many Dates Does It Take? Jennifer says you should go out no more than two or three times if you're on the fence. "But," she says, "if there are clearly things that are complete deal-breakers—like if he's a bad tipper—only two. After all, he may have just been short on cash on the first date." I've had great relationships that morphed out of friendships and amazing friendships that started off as dates, so you need to play this one by ear. If he seems completely smitten and the thought of him naked makes your ladyparts shrivel, cut him loose immediately. If he seems like your average normal guy who's probably dating a few different women himself, go out a few more times to see if anything develops in the pants department.

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