I have a lady that I've dated once.

Since that date, we did not have many interactions except some text messages as she is a MD and my mum has some health issues and we are discussing, from time to time on that. We also happen to know some friends together, just know.

She became a platonic acquaintance, from my perspective, until I received a text message recently saying, that she had a special fondness for me. Thing is it is not mutual ...

Our unique date was the least to say dull, nothing to say, no sparkle, close to boring. She is really a nice person, honestly but from my perspective, you need a bit of sparkling, mutual interest and respect, which I feel she did not give me on that date.

I feel I should have cut that link much sooner but she probably discovered me more, through that interaction with my mum. Issue for me is that at least, this kind of interest should have been given much earlier and remember, sometimes we do not send any text messages for weeks.

How do I say to her, that I am not interested, in a nice manner, without maybe saying explicitly, if possible? Have not misunderstood her text message as she is not French, which makes my understanding, maybe wrong?


Some of you may think I should be more upfront but French society does not work like that. Often, you have to keep a quiet lid without being too outspoken. Saving faces is an important part of the social game. Being too upfront is a sure way to create quickly enemies or worse, resentment and to close doors.

Being indirect is a nice way to say no. Remember, I know close to nothing about her, how she will react in hearing news that does not fit her. The lady being not French adds to complexity of what can be said and what must be kept implicit. After giving many thoughts and with Astralbee's answer, I've decided to be courteous but indirect.

In this case, I saw her yesterday. I say Hi, smile to her , did not eye contact when not necessary. I did not mention my mum.

She understood that I was not interested to go further. She did not contact me by text message. And if she is coming back later, I will be more frank, in a courteous manner.

  • "Saving faces is an important part of the social game" I agree with your update (being French), the only comment I would have is that the dating scene is much more direct than in other countries (and less direct that in even others). This is not your case as she is not trying to pick you up in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (since you know each other) but for the non-French readers you may be surprised at how direct the dating is.
    – WoJ
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 10:02
  • (cont'd) I am not talking about harassment - just the fact that you may be approached in a quite direct way. I once went to buy some batteries in Paris and when coming back after 5 minutes my wife was already being courted by a smiling guy. He saw me, smiled to both of us and went his way.
    – WoJ
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 10:02

1 Answer 1


I don't think you are misunderstanding her expression of "special fondness", although it is a little unusual turn of phrase (quite formal). Still, she hasn't explicitly said to you that she is romantically interested, so while I would normally advocate a direct approach, there is perhaps not a need yet for any approach, until she is more specific. If I have understood correctly, and your first languages are different (she speaks English first, and you speak French first?), she will surely know that if she wants to declare romantic feelings for you she has to make it clear. She's a doctor, after all, she's supposed to be smart!

If more time has passed than would usually have before you replied to her, then at this point I would just ignore the text. If she sends a similar message to you again, there is nothing rude in asking her what she means. Perhaps say:

You'll need to explain what you mean by that - I don't always pick up on subtleties in English.

If you assume romantic intentions and rebut them prematurely, she could either (a) deny them if she has them, or (b) not have them at all. Either way, this could be embarrassing.

If and when she expresses something to you directly, or she clarifies what she means because you asked her to - that is the time for you to be direct.

This article from Psychology Today discusses "breakup strategies", and how various indirect approaches can soften the blow, but ultimately have negative effects. I know you're not in a true breakup situation, but the principles apply. If you are indirect, she may be left wondering if it is just the wrong time for you, or if there is some other circumstances in which you might be interested in her. It is best to put her straight before more feelings become involved.

If you say:

I'm very flattered, but I don't feel the same way and would like to remain friends.

This will:

  1. acknowledge what they said and show it didn't offend you
  2. state your feelings clearly and show there is no possibility of a relationship
  3. show that you do value them as a friend.

If you resort to using other breakup strategies like "it's not you, its me" you will only find yourself facing persistence, or having to explain further, or having to deal with the same issue again at a later date.

  • 1
    Hi @Astraibee, many thanks for your answer. Indeed, she is smart. The way she puts it, is probably due to her lack of mastery of French, not only the language but the social cues that come with the culture. She is not the kind of woman who will pursue me or any one with insistance. So one of the indirect strategy will work. Those of you who are reading me will think that I should be more upfront and act less "cowardly". However, French society as a whole does not work like that. "Save face" is a very important component of our social life. Without it, you can create enmities quickly.
    – John Legas
    Commented Nov 10, 2019 at 16:04

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