I am new in the town and I am currently looking for a new job, so I am trying to meet as many people as possible. I attend different business and hobby networks and meet people there.

Sometimes after such a meeting a person of the opposite sex contacts me and asks whether we should meet e.g. and go sightseeing or have a drink or a dinner.

I like socializing and I'm going to these meetings to meet new people, so it's perfectly fine that I get contacted. However, I'm always uneasy about how to let the people know that I'm not really interested in them in the romantic sense.

  • I don't want to "casually mention" my boyfriend. I'm single and I don't want the news that I'm in a relationship to spread. I don't want to need to lie about what my imaginary bf does and where he comes from either.

  • I don't want to say that I'm not interested in them since I don't even know whether they are interested in me.

Ideas, how I should handle it? I see these people as potential friends and professional network, not as lovers.

I'm based in western Europe and these people are from different countries including Germany, Spain, Scandinavia.

P.S. I've read this: How to have dinner without romance involved. But my situation is different: it's about people I've just met and I'm single.

  • 1
    Would it be possible to turn these into larger outings? Invite some other people you met at the same venue?
    – Llewellyn
    Jul 10, 2018 at 18:03

4 Answers 4


From the way you describe it, from my personal experience (Germany), almost 100% of such dates are with at least an underlying romantic interest. That does not mean the other person is already certain if he/she wants to make a friend or wants more. Maybe he/she wants to get to know you better first.

As such I'd advise you to be up-front and offer them an opt-out. Something like:

Yes - I'd love to go to RandomActivity with you. Just to prevent any mix-up - this is not supposed to be a date is it? Because I'm not looking right now but I'd love to make some new friends!

Then go from there, depending their reaction.

Edit: As @snb pointed out, also try to avoid typical date behavior during your activities. For example, pay for your own stuff or, if they insist, you pay the next round. Go light on the door-holding and similar etiquette etc. so you make clear you're just buddies.

  • 24
    another thing, I'm not from Germany, so I'm not sure if this applies, but DO NOT LET THEM PAY FOR YOU. Some people say they don't want X activity to be a date, but they accept all the perks as if it was a date. Good friends and dates might pay for each other, but acquaintances and new friends don't. If you do this, even if you explicitly say "this is not a date" you will be sending very strong signals otherwise. There are exceptions to the rule (tickets are already free to both, more than just you two are there, its a very small item that isn't the main ticket).
    – Krupip
    Jul 10, 2018 at 14:14
  • @snb: I partly agree. Although it is quite normal in my peer group to invite each other, it should more-or-less balance out over time. In this specific situation better avoid any ambiguity.
    – user6109
    Jul 10, 2018 at 14:19
  • 1
    Also refrain from excessive physical contact and mind the "date-like body language". like as in ref but in reverse. Jul 10, 2018 at 14:32
  • 4
    @385703 if people are insistent on paying for you, they have probably decided for themselves that they are on a date, regardless of what the other person is saying.
    – Erik
    Jul 11, 2018 at 7:12
  • 1
    @snb I think your comment needs some qualification. In my experience (i.e. my little niche of American culture), when you invite someone to do something that costs money, it's polite to offer to cover their cost. As long as the activity isn't expensive, that doesn't mean you wanted it to be a date. I have no doubt that what you said is true for many people, I'm just pointing out that there definitely is some regional variation in it.
    – David Z
    Jul 11, 2018 at 7:52

Tips from a female friend of mine who has always had more male friends than female, and also deals with a lot of unwanted romantic attention:

  • If you go for dinner or drinks with someone you don't know, you should be the one to decide where to go, and choose a place that you know and are known, if you can.
  • Keep an eye on your drink at all times (go to the toilet between drinks) and don't drink too much.
  • Arrange to meet relatively early in the evening, so that public transport is still running when the 'date' finishes.
  • Always split the bill - don't let anyone else pay for you.
  • Keep the conversation focused on non-romantic topics when talking with acquaintances.
  • When the conversation turns to romantic topics, as it almost certainly will with acquaintances who become friends, talk about the dates you've been on lately (or that you're not dating at the moment, if that's the case). This helps to make it clear that you've got that part of life under control and are not in need of any assistance from them in that department.
  • Don't be afraid to quickly and firmly shut down any inappropriate behaviour. What is inappropriate varies from person to person:

    • Inappropriate could be an acquaintance trying to make the conversation romantic, despite your attempts to keep it professional.
    • Inappropriate could be someone touching you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable.

    A negative response ("No, I don't think so." and removal of the unwanted hand, if that's the case) should be enough to send a clear signal that you're not interested. If they don't take the hint then end the date and don't see them again.

Most people are quick enough to take a hint, even if they started off with high hopes of a romantic liaison.


My SO says that searching for job is a job, so the "job focus" avazula suggested is perfectly applicable. Whenever my wife has been looking for a job, she has spent a whole 8 hours journey searching for jobs, just as she were already working.

So you just say you are too busy sending curricula, actualizing data in job-searching websites, attending to meetings and interviews, etc., to party much. You don't have much leisure time despite being unemployed and, because of being unemployed, you don't want to get out much because it's expensive. For now, finding a job it's your main - and nearly only - outdoor activity.

Saying this you are stating that you are not averse to hanging around with people, but you're not looking for relationships right now, only for jobs, and your time (and maybe budget) for leisure activities, parties or dates is pretty limited. It won't be perceived as rude or impolite, it's in fact the plain truth so you won't have any problems defending it - no need to invent excuses or alibis.

Beware of allies, though. If some of these people are actually pursuing a relationship with you, and you being unemployed is perceived as the only obstacle to this relationship they can be extra-motivated in helping you finding a job, but I would be wary of accepting a job offer from someone who previously tried to invite me for dinner... Maybe they think you owe them something.

  • From what I understand about your approach, you´d politely reject private activities altogether. Yet OP states I see these people as potential friends - How do you account for that?
    – user6109
    Jul 10, 2018 at 13:31
  • 1
    OP wants not to alienate them as possible friends, but is wary of hanging out with them - at least, the two of them together, as in a date. This answer does not rules out a possible friendship, and OP can go to certain activities if he/she fancies, but it effectively conveys the idea that going out with any of them will be a rare event, at least while still unemployed.
    – Rekesoft
    Jul 10, 2018 at 13:40

I had some friend who found themselves in similar situations. Depending on the anecdotes, I'm gonna give you several potential leads:

The job focus

My best friend recently fell in love with a friend of his, and since I personally know the woman, I knew that she was not in a phase of her life where she was looking for someone.
What she did was to tactfully approach the matter at a moment while they were hanging out together (e.g. after watching a movie or while having a drink). She started a conversation about their respective current goals and expectations of life, and after listening to what my friend's, she said something in the lines of:

Things are thrilling at work these days. I'm thriving in a activity I am passionate about. Sure it does not let me such free time to hang out and find love, but that's ok, I'm not looking for it right now. I prefer to focus on my career while I'm having such a good time at work.

That way, she simply stated she was not planning to got engaged in a relationship at the moment. Since you do not know well the people who offer you to go on dates, I'd suggest you to ask them what they do for a living and then adopt a similar attitude to what my best friend's crush did. Of course you cannot mention your current job since you're looking for one, but you can disclaim you're focusing on finding the perfect one because feeling good at work is important to you.
There's nothing offensive in saying this, it does not come out of the blue so it does not appear to be rude, and you clearly state that you're not interested in anything more than friendship.

The true love

I have other friends who summoned religious reasons: they were waiting for the right person to build something really serious, and they were not in a period of their life where they were able or wanting to commit in something serious. They were explaining it to the other part when the topic was brought on the table.

The broken heart

Finally, a very good friend of mine fell in love with her roommate while in Erasmus, and they couldn't pursue their relationship once they'd go home. She didn't feel she was ready to fall in love again since, so she's simply saying to anyone who would go on a romantic date with her that she'd love to spend some time with the person but that she's too hurt right now to consider get engaged in a romantic relationship again.

Depending on your case (whether you're clearly standing by the will of remaining single for the moment or want to keep a door open), I think you might find advice in the three abovementioned examples. Either way, I'd personally suggest you wait for the other part to bring the matter on the table or attempts to act romantically. You're certainly aware that in Western Europe, it is not rare to hang out with someone without any romance involved, plus it can be very touchy to reveal your romantic intentions without seeming undertaking or being uncomfortable that you were misled by the other part's intention. You won't seem rude if you do not bring up the matter before the person reveals their romantic thoughts. You won't seem rude either if you warn them you'd rather focus on another part of your life at this moment.

  • Won't the "true love" approach just make people think they might be the "one true love" if they can just convince the other? The other ones seem perfectly fine advice, but that one might backfire.
    – Erik
    Jul 11, 2018 at 7:17
  • @Erik IMO the "true love" approach also gently indicates that the other part might not be that right person, at least not right now. But I agree with you, and those are just real-life examples. If I were in OP's shoes, if I was asked out I would just use a transparent "with pleasure. I shall tell you I'm not interested in romance right now, but I'd love to make new friends". However this is everything but subtle, hence I prefered to share my friends' experience.
    – avazula
    Jul 11, 2018 at 7:27

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