Is There A Good Way To Handle Rejection On Dating Apps?



Thanks to social media and dating apps, finding people to connect with, whether it be for friendships, relationships, networking, or some good ol’ fashioned fun, has never been easier. One simply has to take 5 seconds to search for and download the app (or apps) of their choosing and they are set; in some cases, you don’t even have to provide a picture or any personal information about yourself to get things underway.

For the LGBTQ+ community, this has paved the way for an unprecedented level of connection. For many of us, myself included, these apps helped with our first time testing the waters of the LGBTQ+ community; it’s sometimes the first chance a person has to have conversations with others like them and the experience can be incredibly liberating and validating because it confirms that you, no matter what you had previously thought, are not alone.

Of course, these apps are not all rainbows, butterflies, and happy little rays of sunshine; there is an unattractive side to them as well. Oftentimes, the search filters are called out by many in the community as a negative feature of these apps, and for good reason. There are some there to help with convenience, such as searching by geographic location, but there are others that deal with body type and race which can make the experience uncomfortable for many users. It is not a requirement to list any of this information if you don’t want to, but even then it can be hard to escape the discriminatory (and offensive) bio messages that say stuff like, “No fats, no fems, whites only…no offense, that’s just my preference.”

It can be incredibly frustrating to see messages like this displayed as acceptable; generalizing an entire group of people based on one shared characteristic is a terrible practice to use on these apps. Not only is it offensive, but also deepens the divides around these issues within our community at large.

That being said, there are always going to be people on these apps that, for whatever reason, you are not going to be interested in talking to. There could be several reasons for this; there is something off-putting in their bio (ex. “Harry Potter is for idiots”), they’re looking for something that you are not, or a wide variety of other small tidbits that could make you not want to engage with them.

This is the double edged sword of these dating apps; you can connect to EVERYONE, which means that you are inevitably going to face your fair share of rejection and have to dish out some rejection of your own. The question is, is there a good way to let someone down? The most commonly cited ways to do this, based on my experience, are either ignoring the messages or letting the person know, “I’m not interested.”

I’ve personally tried both methods (and have had both used on me) and have found that neither really ends up going well; why would they? No one likes dealing with either end of rejection.

However, more often than not I will opt to ignore messages, for the reasons mentioned above or for other mundane reasons, like I was just checking the app before bed and am not interested in engaging in a conversation at the moment.

I’ve tried the, “I’m not interested,” route as well, albeit in kinder terms, but have found that it has a much higher rate of a negative reaction. A lot of the time, this comes after several unanswered messages; to save the person the time and effort of messaging again, I’ll share my reasoning as to why I don’t want to engage. Typically, I get a very nasty response (You think you’re better than me, snob, pretentious queen, etc.), even when their bio explicitly says, “If you are not interested, just say so!”

When it comes to dealing with my own rejections, I prefer for those who aren’t interested in me to just ignore my messages; usually if I don’t get a response after a message or two, I will block that person from my feed in order to avoid future, one-sided communications.

Whatever way it happens, it sucks getting rejected; it also sucks rejecting someone else. But the great part about these apps is that there are hundreds of other people out there who DO want to connect with you. It begs the question, why are we so focused on the people who reject us and how they do it when there are so many more fish out there in the dating app sea? It seems that those are the people our attention should be directed at, rather than at those who have made it abundantly clear that they are not interested, either through writing those words or never writing any back at all.

Blaize Stewart
Blaize Stewart is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received a BA in broadcast journalism and a MA in journalism. He currently lives in Chicago, IL and works as an influencer relations associate for a full-service influencer marketing agency called Faam and as an adjunct instructor at Robert Morris University. Additionally, he runs the LGBTQ+ blog Out Loud, a space for members to share their experiences and thoughts on current events and more.