DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the right thing to say when an old acquaintance who used to be romantically interested in you tries to reconnect? I wasn't interested then (which I said back then), and I'm not interested now.
In this case, it's an acquaintance from over a decade ago. Only God knows how he tracked me down, since I no longer have the same last name, nor do we have any mutual acquaintances.
I did decline his social media request and blocked him. He has no professional reason to connect with me, though he did try to manufacture a lame one. I felt the motivation was suspect. I don't think it's appropriate to keep in touch with men who used to be interested in me. Especially since I'm married now.
That being said, what is the polite but firm wording for dealing with people like this, should I ever need to do more than click a decline/block button?
GENTLE READER: It's a strange world, where people explicitly propose themselves as friends, and modern love stories often feature the resumption of high school crushes by people who feel they have been battered by life.
Nipping such hopes politely is not easy. There is no graceful way to say, "I don't want to be in touch with you." If you offer lame excuses, you are bound to be caught, and if you are frank, you are hurtful.
Ghosting is much derided (and practiced), but in this case you would not be ending a relationship, only declining to re-establish a tenuous one. Ignoring the request allows your admirer the face-saving supposition that you were simply careless, and while clicking to decline is definitive, it is still less harsh than telling him outright to go away.
Miss Manners gathers that you feel he might persist to the point where you have to make that clear. In that case, you should re-classify his overtures as stalking and take appropriate measures.