Is Honesty Really The Best Policy?

I've polled this topic extensively with friends and there is no cut and dry answer to the question of what's the best way to turn someone down. My approach? After one date, if I'm definitely not feeling it, ghosting seems the most humane course of action. No one is really invested and there's no need for any explanation. After a second or even third date, while perhaps not the nicest thing to do, a simple 'I just don't feel the chemistry' text often suffices.

Now, while these scenarios are very straightforward, they aren't always with matters of the heart. Last week, I went on a date with a lovely guy. We had a perfectly nice time and when the date was over, I remember thinking, 'that's the type of guy I should give a chance to.' He texted the next day asking me out. Not yet sure how I felt, I gave a tepid 'maybe'. A few days passed and when he asked for an answer, I declined saying I was exhausted (which I was--I'm training for a marathon and had a crazy run that morning) but that we should try for another night.

Well, a week passed and he once again made an effort to secure a date. At this point, I'd had a lot of time to think things through. As we all well know, you can't fabricate feelings and when I thought about a second date, I just wasn't that excited. I sent back a straightforward-I didn't feel chemistry text and thus began an hour long back and forth about how I'd been dishonest about my feelings, had led him on, how he wished I'd leveled with him after our date, and on and on and on.

After this unpleasant interaction, it of course made me question whether my previously tried and true approach was really the way to go. Was it better that I was honest and gave him something tangible to hang his rejection hat on or, would I have been better off ghosting him even after giving that maybe? Or maybe not giving any answer at all?

In my experience, I always want to know what went wrong. Was it something I did? Could I have acted differently and had a different result? This being true, it's sometimes nice to hear a concrete explanation like 'lack of chemistry' even if it is a bit of a bland line. That feels like closure. But maybe I'm projecting my need for that finalization onto the men I date. And if the end result of honesty is having to justify your feelings after a single date, is it worth it to always be upfront or, would it be better to just disappear into the ether with no one any the wiser?

Or what about a relationship that lasts a month or two. Yes it's short lived, but it's enough time to develop some feelings. For better or worse, I'm not good at letting things linger and if I don't feel 'it' early on, I beat a hasty retreat. But there are those with more patience than I who like to give things time. Maybe wait a month or two to see if there's compatibility. Problem with that is, after a month, saying out of nowhere that you just didn't feel it can be even more painful. Why pretend everything is cool just to drop the hammer at the last minute and bail?

What do you think? Is honesty more humane or would we all do better under a veil of mild uncertainty? Would love to hear other's thoughts about this topic. Leave me some love in the comments!