The matter of consent in direct swapping

Hello dear postcrossing-mates,

I just thought of some issue, I’d love to hear your opinions about.

When you are in a process of initiating a direct swap of postcards with someone, at what stage it is still acceptable to say ‘no’?

Most of times the direct swaps are spontaneous and everything goes smooth to mutual satisfaction [lol, I try to avoid obvious metaphor here].

But sometimes… for example, you are strongly prefer to write the postcards, but another person wants them blank, or you discover something discouraging, or suddenly the work deadline hits you and you want to postpone all postcrossing activity.

At what moment it is still okay to say ‘no’ and stop? When addresses are not exchanged? When postcards are not choosen/written? You still send one card but stop later (for continuous swaps)? How to gently stop the direct swap in a process without offending anyone?

It’s purely theoretical and concerning general etiquette. I wouldn’t say, I ever felt that way, but sometimes swaps just cease to exist in a process, and I wonder could it be because other side didn’t know how to stop it in better way than ghosting :thinking:


As a member of the kink lifestyle, I am an extreme believer in consent and I am a firm believer that you have the right to say ‘No’ at any time.
Although if the other person has already sent their card it could affect future swap possiblities.

I’ve only had to deny two swaps and they were in the initial choosing card state. Just being polite as possible is the best method.

If someone has an absolute need for a card style, like unwritten, this should be relayed early on.


I agree about no in any time, that’s why the metaphor is a bit confusing and misleads. In direct swaps when another person already put the stamps it would be very weird to say ‘no’ and don’t send anything?

In the beginning when swap is suggested, it’s perfectly okay to fully ignore the suggestion (like many people ignore suggestion of thank-you card in hurray message). When you answered then it depends on how quick it goes: some people send you address almost immediately and start writing cards. So would it be a good behaviour to chat a bit before exchanging addresses?

I can also imagine that person agreed to swap with me, but then went to read my blog and found out some opinion which he/she didn’t like, what to do next? Or swaps are separated from personality you swap with?

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Personally, I don’t take into consideration the person, but the swap itself. I will generally wait to share my address until all aspects of the swap are fleshed out.


That would mean, that if anyone sends address in a message before discussing the preferences, that person okay with any requirements of swap (like written/unwritten, stamped/envelope etc.)?

I think you cannot state this in a general way. Some people - like me - are not that experienced in swapping and may not have thought about every detail in advance.


I guess, that is why it is interesting for me to understand how other people perceive the process of organizing a swap. I frequently forget to say in advance that I like to write my postcards, but it’s okay for me to send blanks too, so doesn’t matter in the end

I see the address exchange as a sealed deal so after that the swap is agreed and should be carried out. That also means that I will discuss all the details and check that I have whatever the partner wants to trade before giving my address /asking for the address. Either of the trade partners can say no and stop the swap during the discussion before address exchange (and that happens often! Sometimes you realize the swap will not work out and need to call it off). It takes few swaps to get the routines, but after a while you know to ask for the “critical information” if the partner hasn’t mentioned that yet.

I would think it is very rude to call the swap off after the address exchange as the partner may have already sent the swap… So it is very important that both agree on the details before giving the addresses.

Usually it takes few exchanged messages for me to agree on the swap so it indeed includes bit more chatting than straight forward “here is address, send me something”. Sometimes there is offering back and forth, sending pics, checking how partner wants the swap, asking if the partner got something you want… Organizing swaps takes more time than people usually expect so it is important to prepare well and take care you will be able to swap.

If I need to stop the swap process, I usually just say something along lines “Sorry, it seems I will be unable to do this swap, because…” It is not that serious business at that point so no hard feelings.


Thank you for very detailed answer! :smile: That’s in many aspects how I feel the process goes

Might it happen in some point of exchanging pics etc. before sharing addresses, that you’re already invested in swap, so the sunken cost fallacy kicks in, and you exchange cards even while not being fully satisfied with the swap?

EDIT: For me sometimes after messaging, I don’t care about exact cards anymore, just wanting to swap with that person (person vs. cards feelings can be the opposite way too)

It has happened few times that it turned out the partner didn’t have exactly what I wanted. It is hard to say. Depends really on the case. Sometimes if the partner seems to be nice person and clearly excited about the swap, and possibly has already done lot of work with sending pics and discussing, I might do the swap anyway even thought I am not receiving exactly what I want. But then sometimes I cancel the swap if it seems I am not getting anything nice out of it. Really depends on the situation.


I am also new and trying to navigate Direct Swaps. I have reached out to three different people, offering to mail them a card, with no response. All of their profiles stated they were open to DS, so now I wait. :face_with_raised_eyebrow: I would rather have someone just be direct, even if it’s to say “No”, then you can move on. I would not take it personally if someone said that to me, and I wouldn’t feel that I was owed an explanation. Polite and Direct. :blush:


Thank you for sharing! Yeah, I remember that in beginning when person ignores you after a direct swap request it feels a bit bitter and you start questioning yourself. Then I just stopped caring if there is no reply after first message (when the conversation abruptly ends in the middle of choosing postcards or when address was sent only one way, it still confuses me)

On unrelated note: I can send you something if you like, no strings attached xD You can always say ‘no’, I’d understand

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Like others have said, by the time the addresses are exchanged, the rules of the swap should be clear. Usually some messages are sent back and forth to discuss what cards we want to exchange and making sure the cards are really available. After we agree on the swap we exchange addresses.

I’ve often experienced that “how to send” is only discussed while exchanging the address, though. In most cases both preferred the standard “written & stamped” and just asked at the last moment to make sure. So this wasn’t a problem. Also, I don’t mind sending blank cards, so if someone only mentions this at the last moment, it doesn’t matter to me.

But any more unusual wishes like wanting to receive several cards written and stamped (expensive!) or only sending after you received the other card should be made clear early on. I once swapped with someone who only sent their card after they had received mine, but never mentioned this. Only when my card arrived did they message me to say that they would now send the card to me. I was quite taken aback because I had never agreed to this condition.

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The “how to send” is being discussed in the last moment - that happens quite a lot to me too. But I also don’t mind sending blanks.

The price issue I think is much more important - I would prefer to send 2-3 postcard in the envelope and not separately. But for big swaps I prefer sending in small batches rather than one big thick envelope even though it’d be cheaper. Agreeing on swapping 10 cards for example and then asked to send them all separately might be an issue - I think though because of todays’ postage prices in many countries drove out postcrossers from rare countries, more or less everyone is very delicate with price’s aspect of the swap (most people suggest to send in a way which it cost less)

The sending only after the card received from the person who requested swap - I encountered this condition a lot during my first years of postcrossing, nowadays not so much. I was thinking back then that it was a general rule of etiquette to protect the person with whom the swap is initiated from scam. Myself I find mistrust to be ruining to the ‘spirit of postcrossing’, so I always send in the same time.

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Some people prefer to swap this way, maybe because they made bad experiences. Usually they then follow the rule that the person who asked for the swap should send first.

If someone prefers this and feels better swapping like this, I don’t mind. But I would like to know before I agree to the swap and send my card.

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I think if all the rules have been agreed, the swap is final once either card has been prepared. If one party issues new demands or otherwise changes the rules after this, the other has every right to cancel.

I get surprisingly many swap requests and I have no problem saying no.

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